Zebre arrive in Belfast with a pep in their step
Will Addison is in at fullback for Ulster, while Rob Herring starts at hooker against Italian side
Zebrecoach Michael Bradley: he has made nine changes to his team, many of those returning Italian internationals. Photograph: Federico Matteucci/Inpho
Ulster v Zebre, Kingspan Stadium, Friday, 7.35pm - Live Eir Sports
Zebre have a pep in their step after holding out Leinster for so long last week. We don’t see a 0-3 score line like that too often, but this week Leo Cullen explained that while the sun was lovely the pitch was not.
Michael Bradley knew what he was doing, but Zebre haven’t had that much success against Ulster, and have won just twice in 12 previous league meetings with the Italian side winning twice in Parma in 2014 (13-6) and September 2017 (27-23).
Zebre have won only two points in the first part of the season, and currently occupy the bottom of the conference, with Ulster’s win over Cardiff last week giving them three wins from four outings. Dan McFarland has made six changes to last week, and Bradley nine to his Zebre team, many of those returning Italian international players.
In the half backs Azzurri duo Carlo Canna and Marcello Violi come in, and in the pack former Leinster lock Ian Nagle and three Italian internationals Oliviero Fabiani, Renato Giammarioli and Maxime Mbandà all get a starting berth.
There are two more Azzurri returning from World Cup who will start on the bench, scrum half Guglielmo Palazzani and hooker Luca Bigi.
Will Addison is in at fullback while Rob Herring also starts at hooker and captains the Ulster side. Bradley is hoping for international impact and Ulster can expect what Leinster got last weekend.
ULSTER: W Addison; L Ludik, M Faddes, L Marshall, R Lyttle; B Johnston, D Shanahan; J McGrath, R Herring (capt), T O’Toole; A O’Connor, K Treadwell; M Rea, N Timoney, M Coetzee.
Replacements: A McBurney, K McCall, R Kane, S Carter, S Reidy, J Cooney, A Curtis, C Gilroy.
ZEBRE: J Laloifi; Walker, J Elliott, T Boni, M Bellini; C Canna, M Violi; D Fischette, O Fabiani, G Zilocchi; I Nagle, G Biagi; M Mbanda, G Licata, R Giammarioli.
Replacements: L Bigi, D Rimpelli, E Bello, L Krumov, A Tauyavuca, G Palazzani, E Lucchin, J Renton.
Referee: S Grove (SRU).