Craig Gilroy returns as Ulster rest their halfbacks

Irish province start Ian Humphreys and Paul Marshall for rescheduled trip to Oyonnax

Craig Gilroy will start this weekend in the Champions Cup. Photograph: Getty Images

Craig Gilroy will start this weekend in the Champions Cup. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Ulster’s director of rugby Les Kiss has made eight changes to his team for this weekend’s European Rugby Champions Cup tie with Oyonnax at Stade Charles-Mathon.

In line with the player management programme which he and Neil Doak outlined earlier this week, Kiss will rest some established players who’ve completed a long sequence of games over December and the New Year, but he’s delighted to welcome Craig Gilroy back into the starting line up. The Ireland winger will return to the team at fullback, with Louis Ludik providing cover from a strong bench.

Sammy Arnold will start his first European game on the right wing, with Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall continuing their midfield partnership. Rory Scholes occupies the left wing berth.

Ian Humphreys and Paul Marshall are selected at half-back with Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar named on an experienced replacements’ panel.

Prop Wiehahn Herbst hasn’t recovered from a knock he received last weekend; Ricky Lutton takes his place in the front row alongside captain Rory Best and Kyle McCall.

Lewis Stevenson replaces Alan O’Connor, who also hasn’t recovered from a knock he picked up against Munster, in the second row alongside Franco van der Merwe.

There is one change in the back row, after a physically demanding stretch of games, Nick Williams is replaced at number eight by Roger Wilson. Williams will be joined by Sean Reidy on the bench. Robbie Diack and Chris Henry remain on the flanks.

Ulster: C Gilroy; S Arnold, L Marshall, S McCloskey, R Scholes; I Humphreys, P Marshall; K McCall, R Best (captain), R Lutton; L Stevenson, F van der Merwe; R Diack, C Henry, R Wilson.

Replacements: R Herring, C Black, B Ross, N Williams, Sean Reidy, R Pienaar, P Jackson, L Ludik.

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