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Ulster Make Six Changes For Top Of The Table Clash

Ulster Make Six Changes For Top Of The Table Clash

Young full-back Michael Lowry is pictured in Heineken Champions Cup action last month against Gloucester ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has made six changes to his team for Friday’s Guinness PRO14 showdown with Leinster at the RDS (kick-off 7.35pm).

With a knee injury ruling out Jacob Stockdale, Michael Lowry returns at full-back and is joined on the wings by Matt Faddes and Ethan McIlroy, last week’s try-scoring player-of-the-match against Munster.

The rest of the back-line is unchanged with a settled look to the centre pairing of James Hume and Stuart McCloskey, as well as the half-back combination of Ireland duo Billy Burns and John Cooney.

Andrew Warwick and Alan O’Connor come back into the tight five, starting alongside Rob Herring, Martin Moore, who is set for his 12th start of the season, and captain Sam Carter.

It is all change in the back row as Academy graduate Greg Jones links up with international pair Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee, meaning a bench role for Nick Timoney.

John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Timoney will provide the back-up for the forwards, while reserve backs David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and recent debutant Ben Moxham complete the matchday 23.

With unbeaten Ulster currently holding a 10-point lead at the top of Conference A, out-half Burns commented: “An interpro is not just another league match, there is always an added energy to the week and the game.

“Leinster have proven to be the top province over the four provinces for a while now so the opportunity to go to their place and to try to beat them at any time is an exciting one.

“This will have a pretty big bearing on the standings and with the new format it becomes more important.

“I know Leinster have a couple of games in hand, but we’ve got a bit of a gap and we want to build on that so it’s all about going down there and getting four points and pushing our claims on that final spot.

“There is still plenty of rugby to be played after this weekend but it will put the side that wins on the front foot.”

ULSTER (v Leinster): Michael Lowry; Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy; Billy Burns, John Cooney; Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Martin Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (capt), Greg Jones, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements: John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Nick Timoney, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.