Ulster ‘A’ will take on Leinster ‘A’ in the opening round of the new Celtic Cup at Malone RFC on Friday (kick-off 5pm), and Chris Henry will lead the side out in the familiar surroundings of his home club’s ground.
Chris Henry, who is celebrating his testimonial year, will wear the number 7 jersey and will be joined in the back row by Caleb Montgomery and Greg Jones. Schalk van der Merwe and Rodney Ah You will pack down either side of Banbridge hooker Peter Cromie, with Peter Browne and Alex Thompson, whose form with Terenure College last season earned him an Ulster contract, completing the front five.
Behind the pack, Johnny McPhillips and Jonny Stewart will combine at half-back. Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy Year One winger Iwan Hughes, Aaron Sexton and Peter Nelson make up a pace-laden back-three, with James Hume and Jack Owens paired together in the Ulster ‘A’ midfield.
Matthew Rea, who has not featured since picking up an injury in a man-of-the-match performance against the Ospreys in April, is set to make his comeback off the bench. His brother Marcus, Paul McGookin, Peter Cooper and Michael Cromie are the other forward reinforcements.
Graham Curtis, Bruce Houston and Michael Stronge are the reserve backs for the interprovincial clash at Gibson Park where admission to the game is free, with voluntary gate donations in aid of Chris Henry’s Testimonial charity.
ULSTER ‘A’ (v Leinster ‘A’): Peter Nelson; Aaron Sexton, Jack Owens, James Hume, Iwan Hughes; Johnny McPhillips, Jonny Stewart; Schalk van der Merwe, Peter Cromie, Rodney Ah You, Peter Browne, Alex Thompson, Caleb Montgomery, Chris Henry (capt), Greg Jones.
Replacements: Paul McGookin, Peter Cooper, Michael Cromie, Matthew Rea, Marcus Rea, Graham Curtis, Bruce Houston, Michael Stronge.