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Shanahan Steps Up For First Ulster Start

Shanahan Steps Up For First Ulster Start

Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss has made three personnel changes for the Champions Cup round 5 trip to play Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Sunday (kick-off 5.30pm).

With Ruan Pienaar having undergone minor knee surgery, young scrum half Dave Shanahan will make his first senior start for Ulster, while Charles Piutau and Peter Browne are also brought into the starting line-up.

The Dublin-born 23-year-old Shanahan, a former Ireland Under-20 international, has made 10 previous appearances for the province, all of which have come from the bench.

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He will be partnered at half-back by Paddy Jackson, who kicked the match-winning drop goal when the two sides met at Kingspan Stadium in round 2 in October. Luke Marshall and Stuart McCloskey will continue their midfield combination outside the Ireland out-half.

Piutau, ranked second in this season’s Champions Cup for metres made in attack, is selected on the right wing, with captain Andrew Trimble moving to the opposite flank. Louis Ludik, who was impressive in last week’s game at Parc y Scarlets, is retained at full-back.

Ross Kane will make his first European start after being selected in an unchanged front row that also includes Ireland skipper Rory Best and Callum Black.

Browne’s inclusion in the second row alongside Kieran Treadwell means that Iain Henderson will shift to the back row and will wear the number 6 jersey. Chris Henry and Sean Reidy are the other loose forwards named by Les Kiss.

Clive Ross, Paul Marshall and Jacob Stockdale make way for the new faces in the starting side, but the trio are included among the replacements. John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Jonny Simpson, Franco van der Merwe and Brett Herron also remain in the matchday squad.

ULSTER (v Exeter Chiefs): Louis Ludik; Charles Piutau, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Andrew Trimble (capt), Paddy Jackson, Dave Shanahan; Callum Black, Rory Best, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell, Peter Browne, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Sean Reidy.

Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Jonny Simpson, Franco van der Merwe, Clive Ross, Paul Marshall, Brett Herron, Jacob Stockdale.