Trimble replaces injured Bowe for trip to play Ospreys
Ireland international has recovered from finger surgery
Andrew Trimble return for Ulster after finger surgery. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/Inpho/Presseye
Ireland winger Andrew Trimble has recovered from injury and is included in the Ulster team to face RaboDirect Pro12 leaders the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on Friday night (7.05pm).
Trimble underwent surgery on his finger three weeks ago and starts on the right wing in place of Tommy Bowe, who has failed to recover from a dead leg he sustained in the bonus point win over Treviso at Ravenhill last Friday.
Ireland international centre Stuart Olding is selected among the substitutes and is in line to make his first appearance of the season if he is called upon.
Ulster beat the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium last year, but the Welsh region have won their last 10 home games and are one of two unbeaten sides in the league this season.
Connacht coach Pat Lam has made eight changes and a positional switch to the side that lost to the Ospreys at the Sportsground last Saturday for the trip to Italy to take on Benetton Treviso on Friday night.
Dan Parks starts at outhalf and will be joined by Paul O’Donohoe, who makes his first start at scrumhalf this season.
Up front, props Brett Wilkinson and Nathan White move to the replacements bench and make way for Rodney Ah You and Ronan Loughney. Lock Aly Muldowney replaces the injured Michael Swift and will partner Craig Clarke who captains the side this week. George Naoupu starts at number eight.
From the replacements bench, Mata Fifita and Jack Carty are in line to make their first competitive appearance of the season.
Connacht are unbeaten in their last eight games against Italian opponents in all competitions while Treviso have lost just one of their last eight games at Stadio Monigo in all competitions. Both teams have one win each this season.
Speaking about the team selection, Lam said: “With back-to-back physical games against Ulster and Ospreys and a short turnaround this week we have made a number of changes.
“Robbie Henshaw is with the IRFU player welfare programme and is unavailable for Treviso. We were also hoping to play James So’oialo but unfortunately his work permit is still yet to come through so we continue to wait.
“We were unfortunate with injuries again this week but that challenge gives our young players, such as Academy outhalf Jack Carty, the chance to step up and make their mark. Jack has done extremely well in training and playing with the Eagles and he deserves his place in the squad this week.
“We face a tough challenge in playing Treviso and we know the level of physicality we can expect from them. For us, this week has been about improving the areas of our game which let us down last time out. It’s all about progress and improvement and we need to keep forging ahead.”
ULSTER (v Ospreys, Liberty Stadium, Friday, 7.05pm): C Gilroy; A Trimble, J Payne, L Marshall, M Allen; P Jackson, P Marshall; T Court, R Best, D Fitzpatrick; J Muller (capt), D Tuohy, R Diack, C Henry, N Williams. Replacements: R Herring, C Black, B Ross, I Henderson, R Wilson, M Heaney, S Olding, D Cave.
OSPREYS: R Fussell; J Hassler, ABishop, A Beck, E Walker; D Biggar, T Tebaldi; R Bevington, R Hibbard, A Jones; A Wyn Jones (capt), I Evans; T Ardron, J Tipuric, J Bearman. Replacements: S Baldwin, D Jones, A Jarvis, J King, S Lewis, T Habberfield, M Morgan, B John.
CONNACHT (v Benetton Treviso, Stadio Monigo, Friday, 7.30pm Irish time): G Duffy; T O’Halloran, D Poolman, E Griffin, F Carr; D Parks, P O’Donohoe; R Ah You, S Henry, R Loughney; A Muldowney, C Clarke (capt); A Browne, J Heenan, G Naoupu. Replacements: J Rael, B Wilkinson, N White, J Muldoon, M Fifita, K Marmion, J Carty, M Healy.