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Ferris To Become Ulster’s Latest Centurion

Ferris To Become Ulster’s Latest Centurion

Ulster head coach Mark Anscombe has made seven changes to the starting line-up for the visit of Munster to Ravenhill on Friday night (kick-off 7.05pm).

Stephen Ferris has been named at blindside flanker and will earn his 100th cap for the province. Elsewhere in the pack, Tom Court, John Afoa and Nigel Brady will start in the front row, replacing Callum Black, Declan Fitzpatrick and Rob Herring respectively.

In the backs, Andrew Trimble has been promoted to the right wing, replacing Craig Gilroy. Paul Marshall and Paddy Jackson, who were also on the bench for last weekend’s Ospreys game, will combine at half-back in place of Michael Heaney and Niall O’Connor.

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Ireland internationals Chris Henry and Dan Tuohy have not been included in the matchday squad despite being named in the extended squad on Tuesday.

The two will instead get a run-out for Ulster Ravens against Munster ‘A’ earlier on Friday afternoon at Deramore Park (kick-off 3pm).

Commenting on the two forwards, Mark Anscombe said: “It’s important for us to get them some game-time so the Ravens is a good start. Chris has only been training with the team for two weeks and has had very little contact.

“He hasn’t played a lot of rugby since the Heineken Cup final. He went to New Zealand (on Ireland’s summer tour) but only got a few minutes.

“It’s a long season and the guys in their positions have been doing a good job, so it’s a balance of getting them back up to speed and rewarding the players who have been doing the job for us.”

The New Zealander again stressed that players showing good form will be picked, and used Nigel Brady’s selection at hooker as an example.

“Rob Herring has done well, he’s a young guy learning his trade at hooker and we are happy with the way he’s progressing but Nigel came on last week and his experience came through.

“His scrummaging was outstanding and he contributed around the park and that’s what we want. It’s a matter of keeping everyone accountable for their performance and Nigel took his chance last week and has been rewarded.”

Anscombe was full of praise for the travelling Munster side, stating: “It’s our first derby of the season and there’s a lot of history between the two teams so it should be a great occasion.

“They will be the best team we’ve played against so far this year and their history shows what they’re capable of doing. There’s no prouder union in the competition than Munster and there’s never going to be an easy game against them so we need to perform to our capabilities to come away with a win.

“I’m really hoping that we get a big home crowd out to support us and I really want us to get a victory,” he added.

Over 9,500 tickets have been sold but there is still availability in some areas of the ground. The terrace is sold out but tickets are still available in the Grandstand and Promenade. Call 02890493222 or visit www.ulsterrugby.com for details.

ULSTER (v Munster): Jared Payne; Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Michael Allen; Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall; Tom Court, Nigel Brady, John Afoa, Johann Muller (capt), Lewis Stevenson, Stephen Ferris, Sean Doyle, Nick Williams.

Replacements: Rob Herring, Callum Black, Declan Fitzpatrick, Neil McComb, Mike McComish, Michael Heaney, Peter Nelson, Craig Gilroy.