Seven changes have been made for Ulster’s final Guinness PRO14 team of the season as they welcome Zebre to Ravenhill tomorrow night (kick off 8.15pm).
Cormac Izuckukwu makes his first start while there are recalls for Marty Moore, Jordi Murphy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume and John Cooney. Ethan McIlroy will make his first start at 15 for Ulster tomorrow night.
Despite a youthful element to the side, it’s still a strong side that Dan McFarland has named with preparations underway for the Challenge Cup match against Harlequins in two weeks time.
Outside of John Cooney, the oldest member of Ulster's back line tomorrow is Rob Lyttle at 24 years and 50 days. Throw in Cormac Izuchukwu (21), David McCann (20), Callum Reid (22), Tom O'Toole (22) and Ben Moxham (19), you'll get a real glimpse into the future tomorrow #ULSvZEB
Zebre are rock bottom of Ulster’s conference with just 4 wins all season, coming against Ospreys in round 4, Benetton in rounds 9 and 10 as well as the Dragons in round 13. They’ve scored the least number of tries (22) in the league while Ulster inflicted a heavy 57-14 defeat on them in round 6.
I’m not expecting a lot from them tomorrow having seen their team. Talented out half Antonio Rizzi is well thought of, but starts on the bench tomorrow with Paolo Pescetto the preferred option.
Tommaso Boni is the only internationally capped player in the backline while Guglielmo Palazzani provides 40 caps off the bench. There’s an Irish flavour to their lock pairing with ex Ulster player Ian Nagle partnering Mick Kearney. Nagle made 11 appearances for Ulster during his loan spell in 2018-19.
|26-2-17||PRO12||Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi||Sean Gallagher||40||14|
|30-9-17||PRO14||Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi||Mike Adamson||23||27|
|16-11-20||PRO14||Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi||Ben Whitehouse||57||14|
The man in the middle
Andrew Brace will referee his second Ulster match of the season tomorrow evening. It will be the 13th time he’s officiated the northern province since his first match – a 22-12 loss away to the Scarlets in September 2015 but it will be the first he’s reffed between these two sides.
|Ethan McIlroy||15||Gabriele Di Giulio|
|Robert Baloucoune||14||Pierre Bruno|
|James Hume||13||Tommaso Boni|
|Stewart Moore||12||Enrico Lucchin|
|Rob Lyttle||11||Jamie Elliott|
|Michael Lowry||10||Paolo Pescetto|
|John Cooney||9||Joshua Renton|
|Eric O’Sullivan||1||Paolo Buonfiglio|
|John Andrew||2||Massimo Ceciliani|
|Marty Moore||3||Matteo Nocera|
|Cormac Izuchukwu||4||Mick Kearney|
|Kieran Treadwell||5||Ian Nagle|
|Sean Reidy||6||Iacopo Bianchi|
|Jordi Murphy (C)||7||Lorenzo Masselli|
|David McCann||8||Potu Junior Leavasa|
|Brad Roberts||16||Marco Manfredi|
|Callum Reid||17||Daniele Rimpelli|
|Tom O’Toole||18||Eduardo Bello|
|Alan O’Connor||19||Leonard Krumov|
|Matty Rea||20||Charles Alaimalo|
|David Shanahan||21||Nicolò Casilio|
|Ian Madigan||22||Guglielmo Palazzani|
|Ben Moxham||23||Antonio Rizzi|
The FRU Predicts: I think Ulster will win this by at least 30 points. In the last five matches at Ravenhill between these sides leaves a total score of 209 – 48 and looking at both the team sheets, I can’t see Zebre coming close to Ulster.