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Teams Named For Provinces’ Pre-Season Friendly

Teams Named For Provinces’ Pre-Season Friendly

Ulster head coach Mark Anscombe has named a panel of 27 players for Friday’s pre-season friendly against Leinster, the first match to be played at the new-look Ravenhill (kick-off 7.30pm).

James McKinney, who returned to Uster from Rotherham this summer, starts at out-half where he forms an exciting half-back partnership with Michael Heaney.

Another of the province’s former underage internationals, Chris Farrell, has recovered the ACL injury that ruled him out last season. He starts at inside centre alongside Jared Payne who will captain the youthful Ulster side.

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Rory Scholes, fresh from a highly successful summer with the Ireland Under-20s, starts on the right wing with Michael Allen picked on the left and Peter Nelson named at full-back.

In the forwards, Academy prop Kyle McCall fills the loosehead berth, Niall Annett is the starting hooker and Ireland international Declan Fitzpatrick will scrum down on the tighthead side.

Lewis Stevenson and Neil McComb make up the second row combination, with Mike McComish, Sean Doyle and last season’s RaboDirect PRO12 Players’ Player of the Year, Nick Williams, selected in the back row.

Ireland internationals Luke Marshall, Dan Tuohy and Roger Wilson are named on the bench along with Robbie Diack, Callum Black, Jonny Murphy, new signing Bronson Ross, Alan O’Connor, Ian Porter, Chris Cochrane, David McIlwaine and Ricky Andrew.

The pre-season clash will see two new stands at the Aquinas and Memorial Ends of the ground open to fans for the first time.

The opening of the new facilities marks the end of the first phase of a £14.7 million redevelopment of the ground, funded by DCAL.

Commenting on the game, Anscombe said: “I am as excited as everyone else to get along and to see the progress. We have a great place but an upgrade was overdue. The redevelopment is just going to add to the whole sense of occasion at Ravenhill.”

The game will not be shown on live TV, but highlights of the match will be available on the BBC Sport NI website and ‘BBC Final Score’ programme on Saturday.

Meanwhile, summer signing Jimmy Gopperth will make his first start in Leinster colours for the trip to Belfast which marks Matt O’Connor’s debut as the province’s head coach.

Out-half Gopperth is joined in a young-looking team – which features 10 Academy graduates – by second row Quinn Roux who will partner Tadhg Beirne in the engine room.

The side will be captained by Rhys Ruddock who forms a strong back row unit with Dominic Ryan and number 8 Leo Auva’a.

Noel Reid partners Brendan Macken in the centre, with St. Mary’s College winger Darragh Fanning, who is training with the panel on a short-term deal, named in the back-three alongside Andrew Boyle and full-back Darren Hudson.

There is an inexperienced look to the replacements bench which includes the likes of Jack McGrath and 2012/13 Young Player of the Year Jordi Murphy, as well as a host of Academy players including four first year backs – Adam Byrne, Thomas Daly, Billy Dardis and Thomas Farrell.

ULSTER (v Leinster): Peter Nelson; Rory Scholes, Jared Payne (capt), Chris Farrell, Michael Allen; James McKinney, Michael Heaney; Kyle McCall, Niall Annett, Declan Fitzpatrick, Lewis Stevenson, Neil McComb, Mike McComish, Sean Doyle, Nick Williams.

Replacements: Callum Black, Jonny Murphy, Bronson Ross, Alan O’Connor, Dan Tuohy, Robbie Diack, Roger Wilson, Ian Porter, Chris Cochrane, Luke Marshall, David McIlwaine, Ricky Andrew.

LEINSTER: Darren Hudson; Darragh Fanning, Brendan Macken, Noel Reid, Andrew Boyle; Jimmy Gopperth, John Cooney; Jack O’Connell, Aaron Dundon, Martin Moore, Tadhg Beirne, Quinn Roux, Rhys Ruddock (capt), Dominic Ryan, Leo Auva’a.

Replacements: James Tracy, Jack McGrath, Michael Bent, Tadhg Furlong, Ben Marshall, Jordi Murphy, Dan Leavy, Luke McGrath, Colm O’Shea, Adam Byrne, Thomas Daly, Billy Dardis, Thomas Farrell, Cathal Marsh.