Ulster win crucial to stop the slide
Once top of the table the Irish province need to win in Murrayfield to stay at the top
It was good news for Mark Anscombe after Ulster backrow Iain Henderson underwent an X-ray in Belfast on Wednesday and it was confirmed he has suffered soft-tissue damage to his foot. Although he is missing for tonight’s match against Edinburgh, Henderson will continue to be monitored and it’s expected he will make a return to rugby in the coming weeks.
For the Murrayfield visit, which is a must-win game for Ulster given the context of their rise and subsequent fall to second on the table on points difference, head coach Anscombe has made seven changes as a trio of injured players make their return.
Captain Johann Muller is selected for the first time since February and he is joined in the secondrow by Lewis Stevenson. Dan Tuohy has been named in the backrow alongside Mike McComish and Robbie Diack, who have been retained from the team which drew with Treviso, with John Afoa switching back to his regular tighthead prop position.
Jared Payne will line up at fullback for the first time since the beginning of January and is joined in the back three by Andrew Trimble and Michael Allen.
Paul Marshall is another returning player and he will be partnered at half back by fellow Irish cap Paddy Jackson. Stuart Olding, who has scored twice in his last two games for the province, will again combine with Darren Cave in midfield. Nick Williams has also returned from injury and is in the replacements.
Ulster form compares favourably to their hosts, who go into the match seeking their first success in seven attempts and just four wins from 17 games.
Coach Steve Scott has made three changes to the pack, with international backrow Ross Rennie making a return from injury. Netani Talei replaces the injured David Denton (knee) at number eight and lock Grant Gilchrist comes back into the squad after his international debut against France last Saturday. Of note is the firepower named on the bench, with an all-international frontrow of Ross Ford, John Yapp and Geoff Cross ready to enter the fray as well as the division’s three-time top try-scorer, Tim Visser.