Ulster welcome back international trio for Connacht clash

Jackson, Trimble and Henry return for clash in Galway

Paddy Jackson returns at outhalf for Ulster’s trip to the Sportsground to take on Connacht.  Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Paddy Jackson returns at outhalf for Ulster’s trip to the Sportsground to take on Connacht. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images


RaboDirect Pro12 leaders Ulster have made five personnel changes and two positional changes to the team that beat the Dragons at Ravenhill last weekend for Friday night's game against Connacht at the Sportsground (kick-off 19.45).

Fullback Jared Payne has recovered from the ankle knock that he suffered against Saracens and takes over from Peter Nelson, who drops to the bench.

The Ireland international trio of Chris Henry, Andrew Trimble and Paddy Jackson, who were rested against the Dragons, also return to the side.

Henry replaces Mike McComish at openside flanker, Trimble takes over from Craig Gilroy with Tommy Bowe moving to the left wing and Jackson takes over from Ruan Pienaar at outhalf, with the South African moving back to scrumhalf instead of Paul Marshall

In the only other personnel change, Lewis Stevenson starts in the secondrow, with Iain Henderson named on the bench.

Johann Muller and John Afoa are named on a strong bench, as is Paul Marshall who will make his 100th appearance for the province if he comes on.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood has named an unchanged side from the XV that defeated Edinburgh 32-24 at Murrayfield last week.

With their interest in the Pro12 understandably superseded by involvement in the Heineken Cup semi-final, Munster Coach Rob Penney has rested most of his frontliners for the trip to Rodney Parade to take on the Dragons, with only three of those who started against Leinster last weekend remaining.

Denis Hurley, Ian Keatley and Damien Varley are included in a side comprised mostly of those players who played in the British & Irish Cup win over Cornish Pirates a fortnight ago. Academy player Ronan O'Mahony will make his Pro12 debut on the right wing .

CONNACHT (v Ulster, Sportsground, 7.45): R Henshaw; D Poolman, E Griffin, B Murphy, G Duffy (capt); D Parks, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, A Flavin, R Loughney, M Swift, M McCarthy, M Kearney, J Muldoon, G Naoupu. Replacements: E Reynecke, R Ah You, JP Cooney, A Browne, M Fifita, P O'Donohoe, M Nikora, F Vainikolo.

ULSTER: J Payne; A Trimble, D Cave, S Olding, T Bowe; P Jackson, R Pienaar; T Court, R Best (capt), R Lutton, L Stevenson, D Tuohy, R Diack, C Henry, N Williams. Replacements: R Herring, C Black, J Afoa, J Muller, I Henderson, P Marshall, M Allen, P Nelson.

MUNSTER (v Dragons, Rodney Parade, Friday, 7.0): D Hurley; R O’Mahony, I Dineen, JJ Hanrahan, J Murphy; I Keatley, C Sheridan; W du Preez, D Varley, S Archer, D Foley, B Holland, Dave O’Callaghan, N Ronan, P Butler. Replacements: S Henry, M Horan, J Ryan, I Nagle, CJ Stander, D Williams, C Bohane, D Barnes.