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Ulster Side Includes Five Debutants

Ulster Side Includes Five Debutants

Ulster head coach Brian McLaughlin has handed competitive debuts to five players for the RaboDirect PRO12 derby match against Leinster at the RDS on Monday (kick off 5.30pm).

With two games in the space of just four days, Brian McLaughlin has had to make full use of his entire squad over the festive period.

Following Monday’s interprovincial derby in Dublin, Ulster will face provincial opposition again when they host Munster at a sold-out Ravenhill next Friday (December 30).

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Three debutants will start in the Ulster back-line against Leinster – centres Chris Farrell and Michael Allen, along with full-back Peter Nelson who has been very impressive for the Ulster Ravens in their British & Irish Cup campaign so far this season.

Elsewhere in the backs, Paul Marshall will be partnered at half back by James McKinney, who will make his first start for the province after a brief appearance as a replacement against the Ospreys in September.

Simon Danielli returns to the team and will occupy the left wing berth, with Phoenix Academy winger Chris Cochrane lining out on the other wing.

Up front Callum Black, who arrived in Belfast during the summer from Worcester, will make his senior debut for Ulster at loosehead prop, while Academy player Ali Birch, a mainstay of the Ulster Ravens side, will make his first senior start at openside flanker.

Birch is joined in the back row by Robbie Diack and Neil McComb who, while more used to the second row, will don the number 6 jersey.

Tim Barker and Lewis Stevenson form an experienced second row combination, while Black is joined by stand-in captain Nigel Brady and Adam Macklin in the front row.

On the bench, Niall Annett, James Simpson, Conor Joyce and Stuart Olding are all in line to make their bows for the province if their services are required.

ULSTER (v Leinster): Peter Nelson; Chris Cochrane, Michael Allen, Chris Farrell, Simon Danielli; James McKinney, Paul Marshall; Callum Black, Nigel Brady (capt), Adam Macklin, Tim Barker, Lewis Stevenson, Neil McComb, Ali Birch, Robbie Diack.

Replacements: Niall Annett, Jerry Cronin, Tom Court, James Simpson, Conor Joyce, Ian Porter, Stuart Olding, Conor Gaston.