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Dublin: 4 °C Saturday 24 March, 2018

Henderson at lock as Ulster grit their teeth for make-or-break clash with La Rochelle

Wiehahn Herbst was a late withdrawal from the squad, so Ross Kane has been drafted in from A duty to take a place among the replacements.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

ULSTER DIRECTOR OF rugby Les Kiss has made five changes from the side who lost comprehensively to Leinster for tomorrow’s crucial Champions Cup clash with La Rochelle in Kingspan Stadium (Sky Sports, kick-off 13.00).

Despite some patchy form this season, Ulster sit just two points behind the excellent French outfit and could take over top spot in Pool 1 with a win on home turf tomorrow.

To do that, Kiss has named Iain Henderson and Rory Best in the tight five, with Rodney Ah You and Callum Black slotted in as props. Ross Kane was a late addition to the matchday squad, he is named as tighthead cover after Wiehahn Herbst withdrew with a calf problem.

In the back-line, Craig Gilroy and Louis Ludik have been given the nod at right wing and outside centre respectively. Darren Cave’s fine seasonal form sees him take the number 23 jersey on the bench.

Alongside him, out-half Johnny McPhillips will hope to make his European debut. The former Ireland U20 star is out-half cover for Christian Lealiifano, who will play his last match at the Kingspan Stadium before returning to the Brumbies later this month.

There is a tough day in store for the youthful back row containing Nick Timoney and Matty Rea as La Rochelle have packed their big guns. None more potent than number eight Victor Vito.

The travelling XV sees just three changes to La Rochelle’s last home Top14 fixture – a 47 – 6 win over Agen – with captain Jason Eaton and Mathieu Tanguy back in the second row.

The only change in the back-line gives Ulster some reason for hope though. Jeremy Pinzelle goes from wing to out-half with neither Ryan Lamb or Brock James in the matchday squad.


15. Charles Piutau
14. Craig Gilroy
13. Louis Ludik
12. Stu McCloskey
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Christian Lealiifano
9. John Cooney

1. Callum Black
2. Rory Best (Capt)
3. Rodney Ah You
4. Alan O’Connor
5. Iain Henderson
6. Matty Rea
7. Sean Reidy
8. Nick Timoney


16. Rob Herring
17. Kyle McCall
18. Ross Kane
19. Kieran Treadwell
20. Chris Henry
21. Dave Shanahan
22. Johnny McPhillips
23. Darren Cave

La Rochelle

15. Kini Murimurivalu
14. Gabriel Lacroix
13. Geoffrey Doumayrou
12. Pierre Aguillon
11. Vincent Rattez
10. Jérémy Sinzelle
9. Alexi Bales

1. Dany Priso
2. Pierre Bourgarit
3. Uini Atonio
4. Jason Eaton
5. Mathieu Tanguy
6. Botia Veivuke
7. Kevin Gourdon
8. Victor Vito


16. Jean-Charles Orioli
17. Vincent Pelo
18. Mohamed Boughanmi
19. Gregory Lamboley
20. Afa Amosa
21. Tawera Kerr Barlow
22. Benjamin Nobles
23. Paul Jordaan

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