Dan McFarland has made five changes to his side ahead of the trip to Welford Road in the Challenge Cup semi final tomorrow night.
Eric O’Sullivan, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor and Jordi Murphy return to the forward pack while Stuart McCloskey is the only change to the back line.
The main talking points to the selection are that Sean Reidy starts on the bench with Matty Rea preferred and he will provide another ball carrying threat in the pack. Jacob Stockdale moves to fullback and Ethan McIlroy retains his spot on the left wing. Michael Lowry and Will Addison start on the bench.
It’s been a improvement from Leicester Tigers this season and they sit in eighth position battling for a Champions Cup spot next year.
Unlike Harlequins and Northampton, Tigers started the season in the Challenge Cup, defeating Brive and Bayonne to secure a home spot in the last sixteen where they defeated Connacht and then Newcastle Falcons to sure a semi final spot.
They suffered a narrow defeat to East Midlands rivals Northampton Saints last weekend 23-18 despite a decent second half fight back. Jasper Wiese was a stand out player in that match along with double try scorer Nemani Nadolo. Both are destructive ball carriers that will run over the top of their opposite man if afforded a one-on-one.
It’s two fully loaded sides tomorrow night with George Ford, Ellis Genge, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Hanro Liebenberg, Wiese and Nadolo all set to start. Tomas Lavinini, Cyle Brink, Ben Youngs and Kini Murimurivalu are set to be sprung from the bench.
Ulster have lost just three matches out of the 10 games played in the Champions Cup since the first meeting in January 2004. Only one of those defeats have come in the last seven matches while Ulster are also on a three game unbeaten run against the East Midlands club.
|11 Oct 13||Champions Cup||Ravenhill||Romain Poite||22||16|
|18 Jan 14||Champions Cup||Welford Road||Nigel Owens||22||19|
|18 Oct 14||Champions Cup||Welford Road||Romain Poite||18||25|
|24 Jan 15||Champions Cup||Ravenhill||Pascal Gauzere||26||7|
|13 Oct 18||Champions Cup||Ravenhill||Pascal Gauzere||24||10|
|19 Jan 19||Champions Cup||Welford Road||Alexandre Ruiz||14||13|
The man in the middle…
Pascal Gauzere will take charge of his 7th Ulster match on Friday. His first match was a memorable 26-22 win at Bath back in 2010 in snowy conditions which included a fantastic finish from Nevin Spence in the corner as well as an opening score from Adam D’Arcy.
The last Ulster match he officiated was back in 2018, where Ulster defeated Friday’s opposition with tries from Alan O’Connor, Will Addison and Jacob Stockdale. All but one of the six matches has resulted in an Ulster win, with the only loss coming against Leinster at the RDS in April 2011.
|18 Dec 10||European Cup||Bath||Recreation Ground||26||22|
|16 Apr 11||Celtic League||Leinster||RDS||26||34|
|11 Jan 13||European Cup||Glasgow Warriors||Ravenhill||23||6|
|24 Jan 15||European Cup||Leicester Tigers||Ravenhill||26||7|
|10 Dec 17||European Cup||Harlequins||Twickenham Stoop||17||5|
|13 Oct 18||European Cup||Leicester Tigers||Ravenhill||24||10|
The FRU predicts: Leicester Tigers play a power, forward dominated game, one that Ulster struggled to cope with against Connacht and in the first half against Northampton Saints. If Ulster can keep Leicester’s back row under control, then I think they will win, but it will require a massive forward shift.
|Freddie Steward||15||Jacob Stockdale|
|Guy Porter||14||Robert Baloucoune|
|Matias Moroni||13||James Hume|
|Matt Scott||12||Stuart McCloskey|
|Nemani Nadolo||11||Ethan McIlroy|
|George Ford||10||Billy Burns|
|Richard Wigglesworth||9||John Cooney|
|Ellis Genge||1||Eric O’Sullivan|
|Tom Youngs||2||Rob Herring|
|Dan Cole||3||Marty Moore|
|Harry Wells||4||Alan O’Connor|
|Calum Green||5||Iain Henderson|
|George Martin||6||Matthew Rea|
|Hanro Liebenberg||7||Jordi Murphy|
|Jasper Wiese||8||Nick Timoney|
|Charlie Clare||16||John Andrew|
|Luan de Bruin||17||Andrew Warwick|
|Joe Heyes||18||Tom O’Toole|
|Tomas Lavanini||19||Kieran Treadwell|
|Cyle Brink||20||Sean Reidy|
|Ben Youngs||21||Alby Mathewson|
|Zack Henry||22||Michael Lowry|
|Kini Murimurivalu||23||Will Addison|