Charles Piutau among three Ulster debutants for Pro12 opener
Rodney Ah You is unavailable having suffered delayed onset concussive symptoms
Ulster’s Charles Piutau makes his first Pro12 start on Friday night. Photograph: Brian Little/Inpho
Les Kiss has selected his match day squad for Friday’s Pro12 opener against Newport Gwent Dragons at Kingspan Stadium (7.35pm kick-off).
Academy prop Ross Kane, Charles Piutau and Brett Herron are in line to make their competitive debuts for the province, while Ireland internationals Craig Gilroy, Stuart Olding and Sean Reidy return to the team for the first time this season.
Rodney Ah You is unavailable for selection having suffered delayed onset concussive symptoms following Friday’s 29-19 win over Northampton Saints and he will now follow the concussion return to play protocol. With fellow tighthead props Wiehahn Herbst, Ricky Lutton and Jonny Simpson also injured, Kane has been elevated into a starting position.
The 21-year-old will be joined in in the front row by Callum Black and Rob Herring, who will again skipper the side from hooker. Pete Browne and Franco van der Merwe will continue their combination in the second row.
Herron will partner Ruan Pienaar at half back, while Stuart McCloskey and Olding will form an exciting midfield partnership. Piutau, Gilroy and Ireland Under-20 star Jacob Stockdale will occupy the back three positions. Louis Ludik was unavailable for selection because of a hand injury picked up against Northampton.
ULSTER: C Piutau; C Gilroy, S Olding, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; B Herron, R Pienaar; C Black, R Herring (captain), R Kane, P Browne, F van der Merwe, C Ross, S Reidy, R Wilson.
Replacements: J Andrew, K McCall, A Warwick, A O’Connor, R Diack, P Marshall, S Windsor, R Lyttle.