Luke Fitzgerald named in Leinster side to face Zebre
Stephen Ferris to start for Ulster as Dan Tuohy is named on the bench ahead of Edinburgh clash
Ulster’s Stephen Ferris after his return to action against Scarlets last week. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Presseye/Inpho
Fitzgerald has been struggling with an abductor strain over recent months and has had a number of false starts but, barring another between now and 7.15pm tomorrow, he will line out against the Italians.
Alongside him in the backline is Fergus McFadden who featured in the closing stages of Ireland Six Nations-clinching win over France in Paris last weekend.
Ian Madigan, who also played some part in Paris is named at outhalf and will earn his 100th cap against Zebre, while Jordi Murphy, the only player unused at Stade de France, is named at number eight, with Dominic Ryan preferred to Shane Jennings on the openside of the backrow.
Stephen Ferris will make his first Ulster start for 16 months against Edinburgh at Murrayfield tomorrow.
The giant backrow will start on the blindside after returning with an impressive 20-minute cameo appearance against Scarlets at Ravenhill last weekend.
He is one of six changes to the side which include the return of Luke Marhsall to inside centre after some time out with another head injury.
Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons has made three changes to his side, with props Willem Nel and Alasdair Dickinson returning, along with Tom Brown on the wing.
“Ulster are probably one of the top three or four teams in Europe, there’s no question about that,” said Solomons today. “It’s a great challenge for us. We feel that, as a group, we have improved as the season has gone on, and look forward to the kind of challenges presented by the top teams.”
Leinster (v Zebre): Z Kirchner; D Fanning, F McFadden, N Reid, L Fitzgerald; I Madigan, I Boss; M Bent, R Strauss, T Furlong; L Cullen (captain), M McCarthy; K McLaughlin, D Ryan, J Murphy. Replacements : A Dundon, J O’Connell, M Moore, T Denton, S Jennings, E Reddan, J Gopperth, B Macken
Ulster (v Edinburgh) (7:45pm): J Payne, T Bowe, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy, P Jackson, M Heaney; T Court, R Herring, J Afoa; J Muller (Captain), I Henderson; S Ferris, S Doyle, R Wilson . Replacements: N Annett, A Warwick, R Lutton, D Tuohy, N Williams, R Diack, P Marshall, S McCloskey.
Edinburgh (v Ulster): J Cuthbert; D Fife, S Beard, A Strauss, T Brown; C Bezuidenhout, G Hart; A Dickinson, R Ford, W Nel; G Gilchrist, I van der Westhuizen; M Coman (captain), R Grant, C Du Preez. Replacements: J Hilterbrand, W Blaauw, E McQuillin, O Atkins, T Leonardi, S Kennedy, H Leonard, N De Luca