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Luke Marhsall returns to bolster Ulster as Scarlets include three Lions for Belfast

Les Kiss has made four changes for tomorrow’s clash with the reigning Pro12 champions.

Luke Marhsall is back for Ulster.
Luke Marhsall is back for Ulster.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

ULSTER WILL FACE a stern appraisal of their early-season credentials when the Scarlets, the reigning Pro12 champions, visit Kingspan Stadium tomorrow night locked and loaded with three Lions in their squad.

Leigh Halfpenny and Ken Owens have both been named to start in Wayne Pivac’s starting XV, while Jonathan Davies — the Lions’ player of the series in New Zealand — is among the replacements.

Ulster are bolstered by the return of Ireland international Luke Marshall and Chris Henry to captain the side, but Les Kiss remains without his 2017 Lions as Rory Best, Jared Payne and Iain Henderson are still unavailable.

In total, the Ulster director of rugby has made four changes from last week’s scratchy win over Treviso with Marshall replacing Tommy Bowe in midfield while Henry, Alan O’Connor and Kyle McCall also come in.

McCall joins Rob Herring and Wiehahn Herbst in the front row while Kieran Treadwell is partnered in the engine room by O’Connor. Captain Henry is in the backrow alongside Sean Reidy and South African Jean Deysel.

British and Irish Lions Ken Owens Ken Owens returns to captain the Scarlets tomorrow. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The halfback pairing of John Cooney — man of the match last week — and Wallaby Christian Lealiifano is unchanged, as is the back three of Andrew Trimble, Louis Ludik and Jacob Stockdale.

Tomorrow’s game [KO 19.35pm, BBC NI and TG4] at Ravenhill falls on the fifth anniversary of the tragic passing of former Ulster back Nevin Spence.

Ulster (v Scarlets):

15. Louis Ludik
14. Andrew Trimble
13. Luke Marshall
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Christian Lealiifano
9. John Cooney

1. Kyle McCall
2. Rob Herring
3. Wiehahn Herbst
4. Kieran Treadwell
5. Alan O’Connor
6. Chris Henry (captain)
7. Sean Reidy
8. Jean Deysel

Replacements:

16. John Andrew
17. Andrew Warwick
18. Rodney Ah You
19. Robbie Diack
20. Matthew Rea
21. Paul Marshall
22. Peter Nelson
23. Tommy Bowe.

Scarlets (v Ulster):

15. Leigh Halfpenny
14. Johnny Mcnicholl
13. Hadleigh Parkes
12. Scott Williams
11. Steff Evans
10. Rhys Patchell
9. Gareth Davies

1. Rob Evans
2. Ken Owens (captain)
3. Samson Lee
4. Jake Ball
5. Tadhg Beirne
6. Aaron Shingler
7. Will Boyde
8. John Barclay

Replacements:

16. Ryan Elias
17. Wyn Jones
18. Werner Kruger
19. David Bulbring
20. Josh Macleod
21. Jonathan Evans
22. Rhys Jones
23. Jonathan Davies

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