With three changes to the team that lost 30-7 in Glasgow, Ulster will be captained by returning lock Iain Henderson for Friday’s crucial GUINNESS PRO14 fixture against Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield (kick-off 7.35pm).
Henderson was rested for the Glasgow game and slots back into the starting XV along with Nick Timoney and Abbey Insurance Academy winger Robert Baloucoune. With Michael Lowry sidelined, Baloucoune’s inclusion sees Robert Lyttle switch to the left wing and Jacob Stockdale is stationed at full-back.
Stuart McCloskey has completed the return-to-play protocols and continues alongside Luke Marshall in midfield, with the back-line again led by half-backs Billy Burns and John Cooney, who a last-gasp match-winning penalty in the province’s 30-29 home win over Edinburgh back in September.
Rob Herring, Ulster’s lone try scorer at Scotstoun, Eric O’Sullivan and Martin Moore are retained in the front row, Timoney tags in for Sean Reidy in the back row, while the 23-year-old Kieran Treadwell, who makes his 20th start of the season, is joined by stand-in skipper Henderson at lock.
Ross Kane and Peter Nelson are recalled to the province’s matchday 23, with John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Alan O’Connor, Reidy, David Shanahan and Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam winner Angus Kernohan also among the replacements.
A return to winning ways in the Scottish capital would seal a PRO14 play-off place for Ulster as well as Champions Cup qualification – they are second in the Conference B table on 54 points, two ahead of Benetton Rugby and three clear of Edinburgh. They have won on three of their last five visits to Murrayfield, including a 32-20 bonus point victory last April.
ULSTER (v Edinburgh): Jacob Stockdale; Robert Baloucoune, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Robert Lyttle; Billy Burns, John Cooney; Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Martin Moore, Iain Henderson (capt), Kieran Treadwell, Nick Timoney, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.
Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Ross Kane, Alan O’Connor, Sean Reidy, David Shanahan, Peter Nelson, Angus Kernohan.