McFarland and Van Graan ring the changes for Ulster and Munster clash
Unbeaten, table-topping provinces meet in Belfast thriller on Saturday evening
Ben Healy starts for Munster against Ulster. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Pro14: Ulster v Munster, Saturday January 2nd, Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm, eirSport)
Dan McFarland and Johann Van Graan have names their sides for Saturday’s intriguing clash between unbeaten Pro14 table toppers Ulster and Munster in Belfast.
For the hosts - who have made seven changes from the side which beat Connacht - Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale returns at fullback, with Ethan Mcilroy and Matt Faddes on the wings.
Stuart McCloskey comes into the midfield alongside James Hume, with Billy Burns and John Cooney forming a gun halfback partnership.
Eric O’Sullivan and Marty Moore start at prop either side of hooker Rob Herring, with captain Sam Carter joining Kieran Treadwell in the engine room.
Academy backrow David McCann makes his first senior start at openside, with Matty Rea at six and Nick Timoney at eight.
Van Graan has also made a host of changes, with the prodigious Craig Casey and Ben Healy starting at nine and 10 respectively. Rory Scannell and Dan Goggin line out in midfield, with Shane Daly, Liam Coombes and Calvin Nash forming the back three.
Ireland international Niall Scannell makes his first appearance of the season at hooker, with Liam O’Connor and John Ryan starting at prop.
Fineen Wycherly and Billy Holland start in the engineroom with Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete and Jack O’Sullivan in the backrow.
There is also a potential return from injury for Dave Kilcoyne, who starts on the bench.
Ulster: Jacob Stockdale; Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy; Billy Burns, John Cooney; Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Marty Moore; Kieran Treadwell, Sam Carter (capt); Matty Rea, David McCann, Nick Timoney. Replacements: Adam McBurney, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, Marcell Coetzee, Nathan Doak, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.
Munster: Shane Daly; Calvin Nash, Dan Goggin, Rory Scannell, Liam Coombes; Ben Healy, Craig Casey; Liam O’Connor, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Fineen Wycherley, Billy Holland (capt); Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete, Jack O’Sullivan. Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Dave Kilcoyne, Roman Salanoa, Thomas Ahern, Tommy O’Donnell, Nick McCarthy, Jack Crowley, Darren Sweetnam.