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Pro12 team news: All change for Ulster ahead of Munster test

Both Brian McLaughlin and Tony McGahan have named vastly changed sides for tomorrow’s inter-provincial clash at Ravenhill.

Brian McLaughlin and Ulster captain Johann Muller (file photo).
Brian McLaughlin and Ulster captain Johann Muller (file photo).
Image: ©INPHO/Presseye/Darren Kidd

INJURIES, SICKNESS AND a national training camp have forced Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin to name a completely changed starting XV ahead of Munster’s visit to Ravenhill in the Rabodirect Pro12 tomorrow evening.

A host of unfamiliar faces represented Ulster in the St Stephen’s day defeat against Leinster as McLaughlin attempted to manage a hectic festive schedule which sees his side play two inter-provincial games in four days.

And while a number of Ulster’s regular starters return tomorrow evening, the province are without international stars Tom Court, Rory Best, Stephen Ferris and Andrew Trimble as well as Tim Barker and Simon Danielli, both of whom are suffering from a tummy bug.

Nevin Spence is ruled out with an ankle injury, giving Ian Whitten a first start in midfield since October while South Africa’s Stefan Terblanche starts for the first time since arriving on a short-term contract as cover for Jared Payne at the start of the month.

Callum Black, Ali Birch, Chris Farrell and Peter Nelson, all of whom made their Ulster debuts in the 42-13 defeat against Leinster, are named amongst the replacements.

“It’s a huge game for it, it’s at Ravenhill and it’s against Munster. When the fixture list came out we were not very happy with the fact that we had a four-day turnaround but we just have to manage the scheduling as best we can,” McLaughlin told UlsterRugby.com.

We want to put our best team out on the pitch as often as we possibly can, but Irish Management Programme looks after the Internationals and we have to look after the rest of the players as well so we took the decision, and it was not taken lightly, to run two separate squads for two games.

Meanwhile, Munster coach Tony McGahan has opted to retain just three of the side which saw off Connacht 24-9 in Thomond Park three days ago.

McGahan is without six of his own internationals due to the IRFU player management policy. Ian Keatley and Luke O’Dea retain their places while Mick O’Driscoll, who starts again in the second row, is handed the captain’s armband.

“Given the very short turnaround and looking at their selection for the Leinster game last week, Ulster have clearly identified this game as the priority,” O’Driscoll told the Munster website.  ”Understandable really, they’re at home, no side likes to lose at their own ground. So I think it sets out very clearly the task we face.”

But these are the sort of games you want to be judged on. We’ve a lot of young lads going there tomorrow. Some for the first time. It’s going to be very testing and very interesting.

Ulster: D’Arcy; Gilroy, Cave, Whitten, Terblanche; Humphreys, Pienaar; McAllister, Kyriacou, Afoa, Muller (c), Tuohy, Wannenburg, Faloon, Henry. Replacements: Brady, Black, Macklin, Stevenson, Birch, Marshall, Farrell, Nelson.

Munster: Hurley; O’Dea, Gleeson, Mafi, Murphy; Keatley, Williams; du Preez, Varley, Archer; Nagle, O’Driscoll (c); Dave O’Callaghan, O’Donnell, Coughlan. Replacements: Fogarty, Horan, Ryan, Holland, Butler, O’Leary, Deasy, Chambers.

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Niall Kelly

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