One-ton Ferris returns for Ulster
Rugby: Ulster have recalled two of their big guns for the first Pro12 Irish derby of the season against Munster at Ravenhill tomorrow evening (7.05pm), with Stephen Ferris and Andrew Trimble restored to the starting XV. Ferris will make his 100th appearance for the province at blindside flanker, while Trimble is set to start on the right wing.
Chris Henry and Dan Tuohy, however, have not been included despite being named in the extended squad following their return from the Ireland tour to New Zealand. They will instead get a run out for Ulster Ravens against Munster A earlier in the afternoon (Deramore Park, Belfast, kick off 3pm).
“It’s important for us to get them some game time so the Ravens is a good start,” said Mark Anscombe today. “Chris has only been training with the team for two weeks and has had very little contact. He hasn’t played a lot of rugby since the Heineken Cup Final. He went to New Zealand (on Ireland’s Summer Tour) but only got a few minutes.
“It’s a long season and the guys in their positions have been doing a good job so it’s a balance of getting them back up to speed and rewarding the players who have been doing the job for us.”
Lewis Stevenson, therefore, continues alongside captain Johann Muller in the secondrow, while Ferris has Seán Doyle and number eight Nick Williams for company in the backrow. Tom Court, John Afoa and Nigel Brady will start in an all new frontrow, replacing Callum Black, Declan Fitzpatrick and Rob Herring, respectively.
Trimble replaces Craig Gilroy, while Paul Marshall and Paddy Jackson, who were also on the bench for the 16-13 win over Ospreys last week, will combine at halfback in place of Michael Heaney and Niall O’Connor.
“They will be the best team we’ve played against so far this year and their history shows what they’re capable of doing,” added Anscombe. “There’s no prouder union in the competition than Munster and there’s never going to be an easy game against them so we need to perform to our capabilities to come away with a win.”
Munster coach Rob Penney yesterday made three changes to the side that defeated Treviso 19-6 at Thomond Park. Wian du Preez is rested, with Dave Kilcoyne coming in at loosehead, while on the other side of the scrum BJ Botha returns in place of Stephen Archer. Donncha O’Callaghan, who missed the game as his second daughter was born at the weekend, returns in place of Dave Foley in the secondrow.
The return of Murray sees Peter Stringer drop to the Munster A team. Also included in the side is Niall Ronan, who returns for the first time since suffering a serious knee injury in January.
ULSTER (v Munster):J Payne; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, M Allen; P Jackson, P Marshall; T Court, N Brady, J Afoa, J Muller (c), L Stevenson, S Ferris, S Doyle, N Williams. Replacements: R Herring, C Black, D Fitzpatrick, N McComb, M McComish, M Heaney, P Nelson, C Gilroy
MUNSTER (v Ulster):D Hurley; D Howlett, C Laulala, J Downey, L O’Dea; I Keatley, D Williams; D Kilcoyne, D Varley, BJ Botha; Donncha O’Callaghan, B Holland; Dave O’Callaghan, S Dougall, J Coughlan. Replacements: M Sherry, M Horan, S Archer, D Foley, T O’Donnell, C Murray, R O’Gara, K Earls.