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Ulster Call Up Curtis And O’Sullivan

Ulster Call Up Curtis And O’Sullivan

23-year-old back Angus Curtis will slot into midfield for the Ulstermen this weekend ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has made two changes to the team to play Clermont Auvergne in Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup pool finale at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 5.30pm).

Tickets for the game are very limited in availability and can be purchased here. Ulster are second in Pool A and already through to the round of 16, but a fourth straight would guarantee a high seeding.

Eric O’Sullivan is one of two changes to the side that defeated Northampton Saints last Sunday. He comes in alongside hooker Rob Herring and Martin Moore in the front row.

Alan O’Connor will captain the Ulstermen, in the continued absence of regular skipper Iain Henderson (ankle). He partners Kieran Treadwell, who has earned a recall to the Ireland squad, in the second row.

Marcus Rea has retained his starting berth at blindside flanker, as have Nick Timoney at openside and Springbok powerhouse Duane Vermeulen at number 8.

The in-form Michael Lowry, another of the province’s Six Nations call-ups, is named at full-back alongside Robert Baloucoune and Ethan McIlroy on the wings.

Speaking ahead of the game, Baloucoune said: “It’s hard to beat home advantage at Kingspan Stadium, the amount of pressure it takes off you and the support of the home fans is class.

“It’s unreal to play in and I love running out every time playing at Kingspan Stadium. It’s all to play for this weekend and Dan (McFarland) has made that clear in training.

“It’s a home game at Kingspan Stadium so we’re going to be raring to go. I haven’t played at home in a while so I’ll be looking forward to it and the rest of the boys are the same.”

He added: “(As a back-line) we just focus on ourselves and try to get the ball to the edge. Training this week will be on how we perform that.

“We know the threats that Clermont have but we have threats which we have demonstrated in games recently.”

James Hume has another centre partner this week, with Angus Curtis coming in for his first European start. Stuart McCloskey (hamstring) remains sidelined and Stewart Moore, a starter in Northampton, has a knee injury.

Billy Burns and Nathan Doak complete the back-line, the latter continuing at scrum half with John Cooney stull ruled out with a calf injury.

Brad Roberts, Jack McGrath, Tom O’Toole, Sam Carter and Greg Jones will provide forward cover off the bench. David Shanahan, Ben Moxham and Craig Gilroy are the back-line replacements.

ULSTER (v Clermont Auvergne): Michael Lowry; Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Angus Curtis, Ethan McIlroy; Billy Burns, Nathan Doak; Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Martin Moore, Alan O’Connor (capt), Kieran Treadwell, Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Brad Roberts, Jack McGrath, Tom O’Toole, Sam Carter, Greg Jones, David Shanahan, Ben Moxham, Craig Gilroy.