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Olding Named At Out-Half For Ulster Ravens

Olding Named At Out-Half For Ulster Ravens

The Ulster Ravens team has been named ahead of Friday’s fixture against Connacht Eagles at Deramore Park in Belfast (kick-off 6pm).

Paul Marshall and Stuart Olding, both capped by Ireland earlier this year, will form a potent half-back partnership for the hosts.

The versatile Olding will have the opportunity to play at out-half at his club ground (Belfast Harlequins) after recent appearances at centre and full-back for the senior Ulster side.

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Chris Farrell and Michael Allen form a dangerous midfield pairing, while Peter Nelson – who has been in excellent form for Dungannon – is joined in the back-three by David McIlwaine and Ricky Andrew.

The forwards will have the sizeable Nick Williams packing down at number 8, with Sean Doyle and Mike McComish on either side of the scrum.

Robbie Diack makes a rare start in the second row where he will partner captain Lewis Stevenson. Belfast Harlequins duo Ricky Lutton and Niall Annett are joined in the front row by talented loosehead prop Kyle McCall.

The bench also has a strong look about it, with Callum Black, Adam Macklin, Conor Joyce and James McKinney having all represented the senior Ulster side.

Dungannon hooker Paul Jackson, brother of Ireland out-half Paddy, has been handed an opportunity to impress after a strong start to the season for the Stevenson Park outfit.

Hughes Insuranace Academy players Stuart McCloskey (Dungannon), Lorcan Dow (Queen’s University) and David Shanahan (Ballymena) are also included.

Commenting on selection, Ulster Ravens coach Neil Doak said: “With a few guys coming back from injury it’s a good opportunity for us to give them some game-time to improve their match fitness.

“It’s a difficult period with the internationals on, so it’s good to see guys in different positions as we might need them down the line in the senior team.”

He continued: “There’s no pressure on anyone to win the game and get league points so we’re looking to go out and play a bit. We’d like to hold onto the ball and, weather permitting, throw the shackles off.”

Doak feels that the club players and members of the province’s Academy will benefit from playing with so many professionals.

“The Ravens is always going to be a mixture of club, Academy, development and senior players so there’s a nice blend in there. Hopefully the experienced guys can help guide the younger ones through the game.

“It’s always good to play with more senior players and hopefully the younger guys can come in and learn from the experience and build their repertoire.”

Tickets for the game are available from the gate at Deramore Park. The pricing structure is £8 for adults, £5 concession and £15 for a family of four. Kids under 12 years of age gain free admission.

ULSTER RAVENS (v Connacht Eagles): Ricky Andrew; David McIlwaine, Michael Allen, Chris Farrell, Peter Nelson; Stuart Olding, Paul Marshall; Kyle McCall, Niall Annett, Ricky Lutton, Lewis Stevenson (capt), Robbie Diack, Mike McComish, Sean Doyle, Nick Williams.

Replacements: Paul Jackson, Callum Black, Adam Macklin, Lorcan Dow, Conor Joyce, David Shanahan, James McKinney, Stuart McCloskey.