Ulster are without Sam Carter and Marcell Coetzee for the clash against Gloucester as they hope to breathe life into their European Cup campaign.
Nick Timoney starts at eight while David O’Connor starts alongside his brother in the second row.
Jordi Murphy also returns to the side after his partner gave birth last week while we also welcome back Billy Burns into the starting team after he picked up an injury on Irish duty last month. This will be the first time Billy faces his old side where he made 101 appearances since his move in 2018.
Gloucester were comprehensively beaten away to Lyon last week although that was to be expected after they sent a very young squad to take on the French side. Debutant Seb Nagle-Taylor scored his side’s only try in a 55-10 defeat with Lyon running in eight tries.
Despite Danny Cipriani departing Kingsholm midweek, Gloucester have bolstered their midfield with the signing of Georgian international Giorgi Kveseladze who scored a wonder try against Ireland in the Autumn Nations Cup.
Kveseladze presumably has to complete two week’s isolation and isn’t named in the Gloucester match day panel. Highly rated Louis Rees-Zammit is named on the left wing while England internaitonal Lewis Ludlow captains the side from flanker.
Jack Singleton was a loanee from Saracens but has recently made his move to Gloucester permanent while Charlie Sharples is an experienced operator on the right wing. Argentina international Matias Alemanno and former Lions player Ruan Ackermann start at lock and number eight respectively.
Both sides have met four times competitively in the European Cup with Ulster winning just once, while another two friendly matches have both resulted in Gloucester wins. The last meeting was a pre-season friendly in August 2018 while the last competitive meeting was January 2008 in a 29-21 win to the English side.
George Skivington‘s side sit in ninth in the Gallagher Premiership table. They bounced back from a heavy opening day defeat to Leicester Tigers with a 40-24 win at home to Wasps before Harlequins came away from Kingsholm with a victory in round three.
|Gloucester Rugby||Ulster Rugby|
|Kyle Moyle||15||Michael Lowry|
|Charlie Sharples||14||Matt Faddes|
|Chris Harris||13||James Hume|
|Mark Atkinson||12||Stuart McCloskey|
|Louis Rees-Zammit||11||Jacob Stockdale|
|Lloyd Evans||10||Billy Burns|
|Charlie Chapman||9||John Cooney|
|Val Rapava-Ruskin||1||Eric O’Sullivan|
|Jack Singleton||2||Rob Herring|
|Ciaran Knight||3||Marty Moore|
|Ed Slater||4||Alan O’Connor|
|Matias Alemanno||5||David O’Connor|
|Jordy Reid||6||Sean Reidy|
|Lewis Ludlow||7||Jordi Murphy|
|Ruan Ackermann||8||Nick Timoney|
|Henry Walker||16||John Andrew|
|Alex Seville||17||Kyle McCall|
|Jamal Ford-Robinson||18||Tom O’Toole|
|Alex Craig||19||Matthew Rea|
|Seb Nagle-Taylor||20||Greg Jones|
|Toby Venner||21||Alby Mathewson|
|George Barton||22||Ian Madigan|
|Henry Trinder||23||Ethan McIlroy|
The man in the middle
Alexandre Ruiz replaces Pascal Gauzere as the referee for Saturday’s encounter after the 43 year old had to withdraw due to injury.
Ulster have a 100% win record under Ruiz in the six matches he’s reffed in since his first against Exeter Chiefs in 2016. Three of those were crucial European Cup away fixtures which helped the club qualify for the knockout rounds in the last two tournaments.
|22-10-16||Champions Cup||Exeter Chiefs||Ravenhill||19||18|
|19-1-19||Champions Cup||Leicester Tigers||Welford Road||14||13|
|13-12-19||Champions Cup||Harlequins||The Stoop||34||10|
The FRU predicts
If Ulster have any aspirations of progressing, a four try win would be beneficial but this is a real possibility for this side. I think this could be a high scoring game with both sides scoring multiple tries.
Despite the lengthy absentee list I’m still expecting an Ulster win at Kingsholm tomorrow afternoon. Without Kieran Treadwell, Marcell Coetzee and Iain Henderson we are lacking in bruising ball carriers in the pack but I have enough faith in the side chosen by Dan McFarland to get the job done.