Franco van der Merwe in for Robbie Diack as Ulster look to repeat trick

Clermont has lost just one game in 27 previous European Cup encounters at home

Ulster’s Franco van der Merwe, Ruan Pienaar and Robbie Diack. Their team travel to France as underdogs. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ulster’s Franco van der Merwe, Ruan Pienaar and Robbie Diack. Their team travel to France as underdogs. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss has made just one change to the starting fifteen for Ulster’s Champions Cup clash away to ASM Clermont Auvergne this Sunday, from the side that defeated the Top 14 table-toppers last weekend at Kingspan Stadium.

Franco van der Merwe will come into the second row to replace his fellow South African native Robbie Diack, who has been ruled out by injury and could be out for up to four weeks.

Ulster will make the journey buoyed by their thrilling 39-32 victory over the French team, but will have it all to do once again versus a side that has lost just once in 27 previous European Cup games at home.

The rest of the match day squad remains unchanged, which means captain Rory Best and props Kyle McCall and Wiehahn Herbst will make up the front row, with Ireland trio Iain Henderson, Chris Henry and Sean Reidy named in the back row.

Half backs Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson are again joined in the backline by Stuart McCloskey, Luke Marshall, Louis Ludik, Tommy Bowe and Charles Piutau.

Kieran Treadwell, who made his Champions Cup bow last weekend, is again named on the bench alongside fellow forwards Rob Herring, Andy Warwick, Rodney Ah You and Clive Ross.

Jacob Stockdale could make his European debut at Stade Marcel Michelin after being named among the replacements, while Paul Marshall and Darren Cave complete the match day 23.

ULSTER: C Piutau; T Bowe, L Marshall, S McCloskey, L Ludik; P Jackson, R Pienaar; K McCall, R Best (captain), W Herbst; P Browne, F van der Merwe; I Henderson, C Henry, S Reidy.

Replacements: R Herring, A Warwick, R Ah You, K Treadwell, C Ross, P Marshall, D Cave, J Stockdale.

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