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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 16 January 2021

Stuart McCloskey 'rested' for Ulster's crucial Champions Cup clash with Oyonnax

The northern province are chasing a bonus point to give them the best chance of making the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Image: Presseye/Andrew Fosker/INPHO

ULSTER HEAD COACH Les Kiss has named a starting XV without Ruan Pienaar, Chris Henry, Rory Best or Stuart McCloskey for tomorrow’s Poll 1 closer against Oyonnax in Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 13.00, Sky Sports).

Best, who was named Ireland captain this week, will at least be available from the replacements bench to relieve Rob Herring of captaincy duties at some stage.

Henry has been battling a shoulder injury over the past month and was omitted from Ireland’s Six Nations squad this week. Sean Reidy will continue at openside in a back row also containing Nick Williams and Robbie Diack.

McCloskey’s absence is a surprise as the province had given no indication that the in-form centre was a doubt for the crucial Champions Cup round six match just days after being named in Joe Schmidt’s international squad.

Upon naming the team today, the province said McCloskey is “getting a well-earned rest after playing all 16 of Ulster’s matches this season”.

Darren Cave returns from a shoulder injury to replace the ‘Bangor Bulldozer’ with Luke Marshall moving in a place to inside centre. Jared Payne continues at fullback with Craig Gilroy and Andrew Trimble completing the back three.

Illness has forced Kiss to start with Paul Marshall as Paddy Jackson’s half-back partner with Pienaar hit by illness.

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The northern province lost 33 – 17 last time out to Saracens who will comfortably top Pool 1, leaving Ulster to fight for one of the remaining three quarter-final places reserved for the best Pool runners-up.

Ulster (v Oyonnax)

15. Jared Payne
14. Andrew Trimble
13. Darren Cave
12. Luke Marshall
11. Craig Gilroy
10. Paddy Jackson
9. Paul Marshall

1. Kyle McCall
2. Rob Herring (Capt.)
3. Ricky Lutton
4. Alan O’Connor
5. Franco van der Merwe
6. Robbie Diack
7. Sean Reidy
8. Nick Williams


16. Rory Best
17. Callum Black
18. Bronson Ross
19. Clive Ross
20. Roger Wilson
21. Dave Shanahan
22. Ian Humphreys
23. Rory Scholes

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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