The team has been announced for Ulster’s opening GUINNESS PRO14 match against the Scarlets at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 5.15pm), as Dan McFarland’s coaching reign in Belfast gets underway.
New signings Will Addison, Billy Burns and Henry Speight will all make their PRO14 debuts after being named in the starting back-line. Ireland internationals John Cooney and Iain Henderson will also start after missing the two pre-season fixtures against Gloucester and Wasps.
Cooney and Burns are paired together at half-back for the first time, while Darren Cave and Stuart McCloskey will provide a familiar look to the midfield. Addison and Speight, the 19-times capped Australia international, are joined in the back-three by Craig Gilroy, who scored 10 tries in as many PRO14 matches last season.
Abbey Insurance Academy graduate Tom O’Toole, who signed his first senior contract earlier this week, will start at tighthead prop, earning his sixth cap. The 19-year-old will be joined in the front row by Ballymena clubmen Andrew Warwick and John Andrew.
Alan O’Connor will captain the Ulstermen from the second row alongside Henderson. South African powerhouse Marcell Coetzee, who made a welcome return to action last weekend in the game against Wasps, combines in the back row with Sean Reidy and Nick Timoney.
Academy player Eric O’Sullivan could make his competitive debut for the province as a replacement. The loosehead prop, who has caught the eye for Dublin University, Banbridge and the Ireland Club XV in recent seasons, is joined on the bench by fellow forwards Adam McBurney, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell and Chris Henry.
Dave Shanahan, Angus Curtis and Angus Kernohan, the 19-year-old sub-Academy winger who showed impressive form in pre-season and is also in line for a PRO14 debut, are the back-line options. Meanwhile, Martin Moore (calf) and Kyle McCall (elbow) picked up injuries in training and are unavailable for selection this week.
To purchase tickets for Ulster v Scarlets, simply click here or contact the Ulster Rugby ticket office for more information – tel: (028) 9049 3222 (option 2). Admission to the game is included in Ulster’s 2018/19 Season Ticket packages.
ULSTER (v Scarlets): Will Addison; Craig Gilroy, Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Henry Speight; Billy Burns, John Cooney; Andrew Warwick, John Andrew, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor (capt), Iain Henderson, Marcell Coetzee, Sean Reidy, Nick Timoney;
Replacements: Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell, Chris Henry, Dave Shanahan, Angus Curtis, Angus Kernohan.