Outhalf Bill Johnston to make competitive debut for Ulster
Former Ireland U-20 international had limited opportunities at Munster
Bill Johnston: will make his first start for Ulster against Toyota Cheetahs. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Pro14: Toyota Cheetahs v Ulster
Kick-off: 5.15pm Irish time, Saturday. Venue: Toyota Stadium. On TV: Live on Eir Sport.
Ulster named a 28-man squad for their two-match trip to South Africa with Marcell Coetzee a notable inclusion.
He returns from an injury picked up in the Rugby World Cup warm-up series but is not named this week.
Coach Dan McFarland stays largely faithful to the side that opened the season’s account with a bonus point win over Ospreys last Friday.
New Ulster signing, the 22-year-old outhalf Bill Johnston, will make his competitive debut in the only change to the match day squad. Munster’s home grown talent joined over the summer due to the logjam in the position at Munster following the arrival of Joey Carbery.
The Clonmel-born former Irish Under-20 international was restricted to just a handful of starts last season and decided to relocate north.
He will partner Leinster exile John Cooney at half-back, with James Hume and Luke Marshall continuing in midfield. Craig Gilroy, who marked his return to playing action last week with two tries, retains his right wing berth, with Rob Lyttle on the left.
Matt Faddes, another summer signing who touched down on his debut against Ospreys, is fullback. The pack remains unchanged with hooker Rob Herring captain alongside Jack McGrath and Tom O’Toole in the front row.
The teams have met twice before with Ulster winning the first Cheetahs Pro14 game and the sides sharing a 39-all draw in Bloemfontein a year later. Of course former Ulster nine Ruan Pienaar lines out at scrumhalf.
TOYOTA CHEETAHS: R Smith; W Small-Smith, B van Rensburg, D Swanpoel, A Volmink; T Schoeman, R Pienaar; O Nche, J Dweba, S Manjezi, W Steenkamp, G Olivier, J Pokomela, H Venter. Replacements: R Venter, B Venter, N Fouche, JP du Preez, S Koen, J Wiese, T Meyer, L Fouche.
ULSTER: M Faddes; C Gilroy, L Marshall, J Hume, R Lyttle; B Johnston, J Cooney; J McGrath, R Herring (Capt), T O’Toole, K Treadwell, S Carter, M Rea, S Reidy, G Jones. Replacements: J Andrew, E O’Sullivan, R Kane, A O’Connor, C Ross, D Shanahan, M Lowry, L Ludik.
Referee: I Davies (WRU)