Stuart Olding named at fullback for Ulster

Neil Doak makes seven personnel changes ahead of the meeting with Dragons on Saturday

 Stuart Olding of Ulster is tackled by Steffon Armitage (left) of Toulon  in Belfast last weekend. Photograph:  Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Stuart Olding of Ulster is tackled by Steffon Armitage (left) of Toulon in Belfast last weekend. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

 

Stuart Olding has been released from the Ireland camp to line out for Ulster against Newport-Gwent Dragons on saturday night (7.35pm).

The centre, however, will line out at fullback for Neil Doak’s side, with Darren Cave selected at 13 and Stuart McCloskey picked at 12. Wing Peter Nelson will debut for the province.

In total, there are seven personnel changes and two positional switches to the team that lost to Toulon, but the halfbacks remains the same, with Paddy Jackson, overlooked by Ireland coach Joe Schmidt ahead of the autumn internationals, continuing alongside scrumhalf Paul Marhsall.

In the frontrow, Callum Black is named at loosehead, with Rob Herring at hooker and Wiehahn Herbst retained as tighthead prop. Lewis Stevenson and Franco van der Merwe also remain in situ in the secondrow.

There will be a debut for Seán Reidy on the openside of the backrow, with Clive Ross at blindside and Roger Wilson at number eight.

John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Declan Fitzpatrick, Neil McComb, Ian Humphreys and Robbie Diack are named on a strong bench.

Dragons will give a first PRO12 start to new signing Rhys Williams, who recently arrived from Carmarthen Quins on a month-long loan.

“The step up from Premiership to British and Irish Cup is big and it will be the same again (from British and Irish Cup to regional rugby) but I am looking forward to it,” said the 26-year-old centre. “It will be a big challenge at Ulster but I can’t wait and feel I am ready for it.

“I’d like to think that I am a direct centre and that I put my tackles in, I’ve played 12 most of my career but can also slot in at 13.”

Ulster: S Olding; L Ludik, D Cave, S McCloskey P Nelson; P Jackson, P Marshall; C Black, R Herring, W Herbst, L Stevenson, F vd Merwe, C Ross, S Reidy, R Wilson (captain). Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, D Fitzpatrick, N McComb, R Diack, M Heaney, I Humphreys, R Andrew.

Newport Gwent Dragons: J Tovey, M Pewtner, R Williams, A Smith, A Brew, A O’Brien, R Rees; B Stankovich, T Rhys Thomas, D Way, J Thomas, R Landman (captain), L Evans, J Benjamin, A Powell. Replacements: E Dee, O Evans, L Fairbrother, S Andrews, O Griffiths, J Evans, G Rhys Jones, A Hewitt.

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