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McIlroy To Make First Ulster Start

McIlroy To Make First Ulster Start

Academy talent Ethan McIlroy will don the number 11 jersey for Ulster in Parma ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Ireland Under-20 international Ethan McIlroy will step up for his first senior start when Ulster face Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Monday (kick-off 7pm local time/6pm Irish time).

Head coach Dan McFarland makes six personnel changes to the side that triumphed 40-15 over Glasgow Warriors in round 5 of the Guinness PRO14.

Marcell Coetzee will make his 50th appearance for the Ulstermen, anchoring a back row that also contains Greg Jones – making his first start this season – and Jordi Murphy.

Alan O’Connor rejoins captain Sam Carter in the second row, with the pair packing down behind an unchanged front row of Eric O’Sullivan, who won his 50th cap against Glasgow, John Andrew and Martin Moore.

After run-outs off the bench in the last two rounds, Academy youngster McIlroy (20) is handed his first start on the left wing, linking up with Craig Gilroy and Michael Lowry in the back-three.

Bill Johnston and Alby Mathewson take over at half-back for the trip to Parma, with Stewart Moore and Luke Marshall getting another outing together in the centre.

Adam McBurney, Andrew Warwick, Gareth Milasinovich, David O’Connor and Sean Reidy provide pack options off the bench, and David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Rob Lyttle are the reserve backs.

Sean Reidy, one of the province’s standout performers during their current five-match winning streak, said: “It’s one game at a time, we definitely think about our away form and we bring that back to our defence.

“Defence wins away games so that is what we keep focus on. If we can turn up with some good ‘D’ and get Zebre on the back foot, it will put us in a good place.

“You want to keep picking up those away wins and we have been doing that thus far.”

ULSTER (v Zebre): Michael Lowry; Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall, Stewart Moore, Ethan McIlroy; Bill Johnston, Alby Mathewson; Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Martin Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (capt), Greg Jones, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements: Adam McBurney, Andrew Warwick, Gareth Milasinovich, David O’Connor, Sean Reidy, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Rob Lyttle.