Greg Jones and Schalk van der Merwe set for first Ulster starts

Irish international trio Rory Best, Stuart McCloskey and Sean Reidy return to squad

Schalk van der Merwe in action for the Southern Kings in April 2017. Photograph: Getty Images

Schalk van der Merwe in action for the Southern Kings in April 2017. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Ulster academy back row Greg Jones and South African prop Schalk van der Merwe will make their first starts for Ulster against the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Friday night.

The pair made their debuts as replacements in last weekend’s Pro14 win over Benetton at Kingspan Stadium.

Irish internationals Rory Best, Stuart McCloskey and Sean Reidy return to the squad after helping Ireland to an unbeaten November Series, with the latter two selected in Les Kiss’ starting XV.

Paul Marshall, who won his 200th cap last week, will start at scrumhalf, while Christian Lealiifano reverts to flyhalf and retains the captaincy duties.

McCloskey will partner Tommy Bowe in midfield and Craig Gilroy, Louis Ludik and Charles Piutau will form a potent back three combination.

The only change in the front five sees van der Merwe included, as John Andrew, Ross Kane, Alan O’Connor and Kieran Treadwell retain their places within the team. Jones and Reidy will join Nick Timoney in the back row.

Chris Henry has recovered from injury to take his place on the bench alongside fellow forwards Best, Callum Black, Andy Warwick and Matthew Dalton.

John Cooney, Peter Nelson and Andrew Trimble complete the match day 23.

ULSTER: C Piutau; C Gilroy, T Bowe, S McCloskey, L Ludik; C Lealiifano, P Marshall; S van der Merwe, J Andrew, R Kane; A O’Connor, K Treadwell; G Jones, S Reidy, N Timoney.

Replacements: R Best, C Black, A Warwick, M Dalton, C Henry, J Cooney, P Nelson, A Trimble.

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.