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Ulster To Field Unchanged Team For Thomond Trip

Ulster To Field Unchanged Team For Thomond Trip

Number 8 Nick Timoney is pictured running in a try for Ulster against the DHL Stormers in March ©INPHO/Steve Haag Sports/EJ Langner

Head coach Richie Murphy has selected an unchanged Ulster team for Saturday’s BKT United Rugby Championship derby showdown with Munster at Thomond Park (kick-off 5.15pm).

Murphy has backed the starting XV from the 23-21 home win over Leinster, which secured play-off rugby in the top eight for the Ulstermen who can secure the Irish Shield by beating table toppers Munster in Limerick.

Murphy’s side have won their last four URC matches and are hoping to follow up on the 15-14 victory that Ulster earned on their most recent visit to Thomond Park in October 2022.

Partnered by Kieran Treadwell at lock, Alan O’Connor continues to captain the team with Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, and Tom O’Toole again making up an all-Ireland international front row.

Nick Timoney, Ulster’s leading ball carrier in this season’s URC with 115 so far, anchors a back row which features Cormac Izuchukwu at blindside flanker, and David McCann, who turns 24 in three weeks’ time, on the openside.

Following his BKT URC player-of-the-match performance in the last round, John Cooney will be eager to add to his 82-point tally against the defending champions. He starts at half-back alongside Billy Burns, one of Munster’s latest signings.

Filling the wing berths, Jacob Stockdale and Michael Lowry have scored 11 tries between them, with Ethan McIlroy completing the back-three. Will Addison, a few days on from the announcement of his return to Sale Sharks, starts alongside Stuart McCloskey in midfield.

The forward options for the league’s sixth-placed side are Tom Stewart, Andrew Warwick, Scott Wilson, Harry Sheridan, and Matthew Rea. Nathan Doak, Jude Postlethwaite, and Stewart Moore are the replacement backs.

Speaking ahead of the interprovincial encounter, number 8 Timoney said: “It’s going to be the biggest test. It’s a tough place to go. Munster have been on a great run of form. They are flying but we have had a nice build-up and we are improving.

“I hope we are peaking at the right time. We’ll go down there all guns blazing and give it our best shot. Munster’s attack shape has come on an incredible amount. It has clicked for them last season when they went to win the URC and they have gone on from there.

“(Jack) Crowley does a good job orchestrating the attack, they have some nice ball-playing forwards between (Gavin) Coombes, (Tadhg) Beirne, and (RG) Snyman.

“They have physical backs, they are a pretty complete team and dangerous in all areas. We will have to be on it because if we give them easy pictures, they will take them.”

The three-times capped Ireland international added: “We hadn’t been defending well for a while, but against Leinster we found that buzz again so hopefully we can take that into this weekend.

“It will be a step up again in the challenge. We needed that win (over Leinster) as a team. It was a good day out, atmosphere, nice weather, everyone was buzzing. That can give us good momentum, and hopefully at the right time.”

ULSTER (v Munster): Ethan McIlroy; Michael Lowry, Will Addison, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Billy Burns, John Cooney; Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Alan O’Connor (capt), Cormac Izuchukwu, David McCann, Nick Timoney.

Replacements: Tom Stewart, Andrew Warwick, Scott Wilson, Harry Sheridan, Matthew Rea, Nathan Doak, Jude Postlethwaite, Stewart Moore.