ULSTER HAVE NAMED their starting XV for tomorrow evening’s RaboDirect Pro12 encounter with Edinburgh and given some big clues as to Ireland’s likely line-up against New Zealand on Sunday.
The biggest surprise inclusion is inside centre Luke Marshall, who played 80 minutes of Ireland’s defeat to Australia last weekend.
Despite the injury to Fergus McFadden and doubt over Brian O’Driscoll and Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble and Darren Cave have also been allowed take up a starting role with their province while lock Dan Tuohy takes a seat on the bench.
Trimble, Cave and Marshall are joined in the backline by Craig Gilroy and Michael Allen with James McKinney forming the half back partnership with Paul Marshall.
There is positive news in the pack where Iain Henderson returns from injury to take a berth in the second row. His favoured position of blindside flanker is filled by Robbie Diack who will captain the side for the first time in a back row which also includes Nick Williams.
The omission of Marshall means that Gordon D’Arcy will likely reforge his international centre partnership with Brian O’Driscoll when Ireland face the world’s number one team on Sunday. The experience in midfield may well encourage Schmidt to name Paddy Jackson as Ireland’s number 10 after Ian Madigan’s disappointing second half performance against the Wallabies.
Ulster ( v Edinburgh): C Gilroy, A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, M Allen, J McKinney, P Marshall: C Black, R Herring, J Afoa, L Stevenson, I Henderson, R Diack (Capt), S Doyle, N Williams;
Replacements: N Annett, T Court, R Lutton, D Tuohy, R Wilson, I Porter, P Nelson, R Andrew.