Ulster look to continue their positive start this weekend

Scarlets coach: ‘We had to play our best game out there last year to get the win’

The only Irish province to win their opening two fixtures look well placed to keep that run going in Belfast.

Les Kiss has a strong side at his disposal, and is able to welcome back some big names. Craig Gilroy, Iain Henderson, who starts on the bench, and Paddy Jackson, along with All Black Charles Piutau, are there for Ulster, with Stuart McCloskey adding a physical presence at inside centre.

Jackson will combine with Ruan Pienaar at half-back, while McCloskey and Stuart Olding are named in midfield. Louis Ludik switches from fullback to left wing, with Gilroy and Piutau completing the lineup.

Rob Herring, who is sharing this year's captaincy with Andrew Trimble and a try scorer in each of Ulster's last three games, is joined in the frontrow by Callum Black and Rodney Ah You.


Scrumhalf Angus Lloyd is still in line to make his first competitive appearance after being an unused replacement last week against Treviso. Both back-up nines, Paul Marshall and Dave Shanahan, are injured.

The last time Ulster started a Pro12 campaign with three victories was in season 2012-13, where they did not lose their first match until round 12. However, they will be cautious as Scarlets won in Belfast last season.

"We had to play our best game out there last year to get the win. We threw the kitchen sink at each other, and it was a great victory for us," said Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac.

Probably more of that tonight.

Verdict: Ulster win

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times