Paddy Jackson returns from injury for Ulster clash with Connacht

Outhalf one of seven changes while Connacht swap six for Ravenhill encounter

Paddy Jackson returns from a shoulder injury for Ulster’s Guinness Pro 12 clash with Connacht on St Stephen’s Day. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Inpho/Presseye/

Paddy Jackson returns from a shoulder injury for Ulster’s Guinness Pro 12 clash with Connacht on St Stephen’s Day. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Inpho/Presseye/

 

Ireland international outhalf Paddy Jackson returns from a shoulder injury to take his place in the Ulster side for the sold-out Guinness Pro 12 fixture against Connacht at Ravenhill on St Stephen’s Day (6.45pm).

Jackson suffered a heavy fall on the shoulder in the home victory over the Ospreys on November 21st and has missed the last four games for the province.

He takes over from Ian Humphreys at No 10, one of seven changes from last weekend’s defeat away to the Ospreys.

Jackson will form a new halfback pairing with Paul Marshall after South African star Ruan Pienaar failed to recover from a knee injury picked up against Ospreys at the weekend. Wingers Craig Gilroy and Peter Nelson are the other new faces in the backline, replacing Bowe and Michael Allen respectively.

Both regular skipper Rory Best and Tommy Bowe are rested under the international player welfare programme, so Roger Wilson will captain the side in what will be his 300th professional match.

Rob Herring starts at hooker in place of Best and is joined in an all-new frontrow by props Callum Black and Wiehahn Herbst. The remainder of the pack is unchanged from the game at Liberty Stadium, with Dan Tuohy and Franco van der Merwe continuing their partnership at lock and Robbie Diack, Clive Ross and Wilson again combining in the backrow.

Connacht coach Pat Lam has made six changes from the defeat to Leinster at the RDS .

Darragh Leader, the sole squad member to have been involved in every game so far this season, starts at fullback. In the absence of Ireland international Robbie Henshaw (player welfare), Bundee Aki shifts to outside centre to allow Dave McSharry come in at number 12.

After making three Pro 12 appearances from the bench, on-loan scrumhalf John Cooney gets his first start in Connacht colours, partnering Jack Carty at halfback.

Up front, the props are rotated with Ronan Loughney and Finlay Bealham starting this week with Tom McCartney at hooker.

Willie Faloon is named at openside flanker in a backrow with captain John Muldoon and last week’s try scorer George Naoupu.

ULSTER (v Connacht, Ravenhill, Friday, 6.45pm): Louis Ludik; Craig Gilroy, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Peter Nelson; Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall; Callum Black, Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst; Dan Tuohy, Franco van der Merwe; Robbie Diack, Clive Ross, Roger Wilson.

Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Declan Fitzpatrick, Alan O’Connor, Sean Reidy, Michael Heaney, Ian Humphreys, Stuart Olding.

CONNACHT: Darragh Leader; Danie Poolman, Bundee Aki, Dave McSharry, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, John Cooney; Ronan Loughney, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham; Quinn Roux, Aly Muldowney; John Muldoon (capt), Willie Faloon, George Naoupu.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Denis Buckley, Rodney Ah You, Ultan Dillane, Eoghan Masterson, Kieran Marmion, Craig Ronaldson, Mils Muliaina.

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