Les Kiss’s Ulster seek bit of daylight over Scarlets

Stuart Olding starts at fullback as Guinness Pro12 leaders look to continue good form

Ulster v Scarlets, Kingspan Stadium, Sunday, 3pm (BBC)

Stuart Olding continues to display his versatility by once again lining out at fullback in the absence of a number of injured players. Luke Marshall returns to the team, but moves from outside to inside centre as he partners Darren Cave.

Paddy Jackson is handed the captaincy on a day when number eight Roger Wilson makes his 200th appearance for the province; a tremendous milestone for a teak-tough player. Chris Henry joins him in the backrow following a shoulder problem.

The absence of Rory Best and the injured Rob Herring means that two young hookers get a rare outing.


John Andrew makes his first start for the province, while Johnny Murphy, should be come on as a replacement, would make his debut for Ulster. There is experience on the bench too in the form of Ruan Pienaar and Kyle McCall.

Left wing Jacob Stockdale has certainly taken the opportunity afforded him in recent weeks. There is no doubt that the Ireland Under-20 team are missing the quality both he and Sam Arnoldwould bring to their Six Nations campaign. Arnold will start on the bench here.

Point behind

Pro12 leaders Ulster will be hoping to establish a little daylight in the table over the Scarlets, who are just a point behind in fourth place.

The Welsh side won the game between the sides earlier in the season but have not won on the road since early December.

Ulster have taken 22 points from their last six games, an impressive tally considering that they haven’t always been on top form in that period. They should be good enough tomorrow.

ULSTER: S Olding; C Gilroy, D Cave, L Marshall, J Stockdale, P Jackson (captain), P Marshall; A Warwick, J Andrew, R Lutton; A O'Connor, F van der Merwe; R Diack, C Henry, R Wilson. Replacements: J Murphy, K McCall, B Ross, P Browne, C Ross, R Pienaar, I Humphreys, S Arnold.

SCARLETS: M Collins; G Owen, R King, H Parkes (capt), DTH van der Merwe; A Thomas, A Davies; P John, K Myhill, P Edwards; G Earle, D Bulbring, A Shingler, W Boyde, M Allen. Replacements: R Elias, D Evans, R Jones, M Paulino, R Pitman, R Williams, D Jones, S Evans.

Referee: I Davies (Wales).

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer