Ulster face tough test against Glasgow team bolstered by internationals
John Cooney, Stuart McCloskey and Eric O’Sullivan all return for trip to Scotstoun
Jordi Murphy will captain Ulster for the first time as they travel to play Glasgow at Scotstoun on Friday night. File photograph: Inpho
Ulster’s pursuit of Leinster at the top of Conference A - the two provinces meet in Belfast on March 6th - faces a very tough test against a Glasgow side bolstered by the return of several Scottish internationals, including outhalf Adam Hastings, who has recovered from injury.
Dan McFarland has been able to call upon John Cooney and Stuart McCloskey - released from the Irish squad’s training camp - so too Eric O’Sullivan, part of an extended matchday squad for the recent Six Nations game against France.
Jordi Murphy leads Ulster for the first time and is joined in the backrow by the consistently excellent Nick Timoney and Marcell Coetzee in a pack that boasts a nice amalgam of power and athleticism. Ian Madigan will draw on his experience and quality to unleash a talented three quarter line that includes two bright young talents in centre James Hume and wing Rob Lyttle, fit again after injury.
Ulster academy secondrow, Cormac Izuchukwu is set to make his senior debut - he was outstanding in an A interprovincial victory over Leinster - if called upon from the bench. He is robust and quick with fine offloading skills. Ireland squad member Tom O’Toole is among the replacements that include elegant centre Stewart Moore.
The visitors have proved adept of handling this type of challenge this season and should be good enough to do so once again.
Glasgow Warriors: H Jones; R Tagive, R Fergusson, S Johnson, R McLean; A Hastings, J Dobie; O Kebble, J Matthews, E Pieretto; R Gray, L Nakarawa; R Harley, T Gordon, R Wilson (capt). Replacements: G Stewart, A Seiuli, D Rae, J Scott, TJ Ioane, S Kennedy, R Thompson, O Smith.
Ulster: M Lowry; C Gilroy, J Hume, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; I Madigan, J Cooney; E O’Sullivan, J Andrew, M Moore; A O’Connor, K Treadwell; N Timoney, J Murphy (capt), M Coetzee. Replacements: A McBurney, A Warwick, T O’Toole, C Izuchukwu, G Jones, A Mathewson, S Moore, M Faddes.
Referee: B Blain (Scotland)