Ulster's in-form Jacob Stockdale set to ask questions of Zebre

Ulster aiming to bounce back after successive defeats in the PRO12

Ulster’s Jason Stockdale in action against Scarlets. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Presseye/Inpho

Ulster’s Jason Stockdale in action against Scarlets. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Presseye/Inpho

 

Ulster v Zebre, Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm (BBC 2)

It’s a measure of Jacob Stockdale’s recent performances that the talented Rory Scholes has agreed to join Edinburgh next season on a two year deal. Ulster are producing some excellent young backs and despite losing Scholes and Sam Arnold – the latter joins Munster in the summer – have depth to their resources.

Stockdale could reasonably have expected to be part of Ireland’s Under-20 Six Nations campaign, his second year at that level, but he’s taken his opportunity to become a regular fixture in the Ulster team, retaining his place on the merit of performance.

It’s the correct decision to allow him play Pro12 rugby over the underage representative fare and injury permitting, both Stockdale and Arnold, should be available for Ireland U-20s for the World Championship in Manchester in June.

Perfect tonic

The home side are coming off the back of two defeats in the tournament so the arrival of a Zebre team, decimated by injury and international commitments, to Belfast may provide the perfect tonic. The Italian team shipped 52 points without reply on their last visit to Ireland.

Ulster coach Les Kiss has picked a backline that oozes footballing ability with the in-form Craig Gilroy switching to fullback and this allows Stuart Olding to return to inside centre in a high class midfield partnership with Luke Marshall. Zebre have only won once ever on the road and that was a few years ago against Cardiff Blues and based on their depleted resources that’s a run of disappointment that’s likely to continue tonight.

It promises to be a long Belfast night for the visitors.

ULSTER: C Gilroy; R Scholes, L Marshall, S Olding, J Stockdale; P Jackson, R Pienaar; K McCall, R Herring (capt), R Lutton; P Browne, F van der Merwe; R Diack, C Henry, N Williams. Replacements: J Andrew, C Black, A Warwick, R Wilson, S Reidy, P Marshall, S Windsor, D Cave.

ZEBRE: M Muliaina; G Toniolatti, G Bisegni, T Castello, K Van Zyl; E Padovani, F Semenzato; A de Marchi, O Fabiani, D Chistolini; Q Geldenhuys, M Bortolami (capt); E Caffini, J Meyer, F Ruzza. Replacements:  E Coria, G Roan, P Ceccarelli, G Koegelenberg, G Cristiano, L Burgess, I McKinley, U Beyers.

Referee: G Clancy (Ireland)

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.