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Andrew Trimble in action for Ireland's Under-21s

Ballymena starlet Andrew Trimble will make his debut for Ulster in Friday's pre-season friendly against London Irish at Ravenhill (7.30pm).

Coach Mark McCall has also keyed in Australian international Justin Harrison to start in a second row partnership with recent Ireland cap Matt McCullough. Trimble, a noted Ireland Under-21, will team up with former All Black Paul Steinmetz in Ulster's midfield.

Elsewhere in the side, former Irish international James Topping will start his first game since breaking his leg last September, while Ireland prop Simon Best assumes his new role as captain, taking over from the retired Andy Ward.

McCall, back with the province after a successful stint as defensive coach during Ireland's June tour of Japan, said: "This is as good a time as any to give Andrew (Trimble) an opportunity to impress. He had a fantastic Under-21 World Cup, had made great progress in the last twelve months and deserves his chance.

"He is a great athlete and great rugby player as well. He has trained very well over the summer and he knows what's going on with the squad," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

Ulster's extended replacements bench, named on Thursday, includes flanker Neil McMillan, who has been sidelined since sustaining a cruciate knee injury in a pre-season friendly twelve months ago. Uncontracted Ballymena lock Henry Head might also get a chance to impress the Ulster management off the bench.

London Irish, led by director of rugby Brian Smith, the former Ireland half-back, will start Irish internationals Justin Bishop and Bob Casey in Belfast, as well as hooker Adrian Flavin, a former Ireland Under-21 representative, and half-back pair Barry Everitt and Ben Willis, who have both lined out for Ireland "A" in seasons gone by.

Ireland flanker Kieron Dawson, whose last involvement under coach Eddie O'Sullivan came against Scotland in September 2003, will warm the Exiles' bench.

ULSTER: Bryn Cunningham; James Topping, Andrew Trimble, Paul Steinmetz, Tyrone Howe; Paddy Wallace, Kieron Campbell; Bryan Young, Paul Shields, Simon Best (Capt), Justin Harrison, Matt McCullough, Campbell Feather, Neil Best, Roger Wilson.

Replacements: Tommy Bowe, Jonny Bell, Adam Larkin, Reece Spee, Nigel Brady, Declan Fitzpatrick, Henry Head, Rowan Frost, Neil McMillan.

LONDON IRISH: Delon Armitage; Dominic Feau'nati, Scott Staniforth, Mike Catt (Capt), Justin Bishop; Barry Everitt, Ben Willis; Michael Collins, Adrian Flavin, Richard Skuse, Bob Casey, Kieran Roche, Paul Gustard, Declan Danaher, Phil Murphy.

Replacements: Neal Hatley, Robbie Russell, Rob Hardwick, Gary Johnson, Kieron Dawson, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Paul Hodgson, Ross Laidlaw, Shane Geraghty, James Storey.

Referee: Colin Stanley (IRFU)

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19 June 2018
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