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Henderson Takes Up Captaincy Reins For Ulster’s European Opener

Henderson Takes Up Captaincy Reins For Ulster’s European Opener

Iain Henderson is back from Rugby World Cup duty with Ireland to spearhead Ulster's challenge for a place in the Heineken Champions Cup knockout stages ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

A strong Ulster team has been named for Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup opener against Bath at the Recreation Ground (kick-off 1pm). Tickets are available to buy online here.

Iain Henderson returns from Rugby World Cup duty and will lead out the Ulstermen for the first time since being named club captain. He is one of four changes to the side that recorded a narrow 22-16 loss to provincial rivals Munster at Thomond Park last Saturday.

Will Addison comes back in at full-back, linking up with last week’s starting wingers, Jacob Stockdale and Robert Lyttle, in the back-three. The in-form Luke Marshall and Stuart McCloskey are retained together in midfield.

Billy Burns returns to fill the out-half position and will play against his older brother Freddie, Bath’s starting full-back, in this game. The 25-year-old Burns will once again pair up with John Cooney at half-back.

The province’s all-Ireland international front row remains unchanged from the GUINNESS PRO14 derby in Limerick. Jack McGrath will pack down at loosehead prop, Rob Herring is at hooker, and Martin Moore gets the nod again at tighthead.

Henderson is partnered in the engine room for the first time by summer signing Sam Carter. Matthew Rea returns to the blindside flanker berth, while Jordi Murphy continues at openside and South African star Marcell Coetzee slots back in at the base of the scrum at number 8.

The forward replacements include Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor and Sean Reidy. Scrum half David Shanahan is set to make his 50th appearance for Ulster and the other reserve backs are Angus Curtis and Louis Ludik.

ULSTER (v Bath): Will Addison; Robert Lyttle, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Billy Burns, John Cooney; Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, Martin Moore, Iain Henderson (capt), Sam Carter, Matthew Rea, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements: Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Sean Reidy, David Shanahan, Angus Curtis, Louis Ludik.