The Ulster match-day squad to face Cardiff Rugby at Kingspan Stadium on Friday evening has been named (7.35pm kick-off).
Jordi Murphy returns to the starting XV, having returned from injury to make his first appearance this season. He is named at blindside flanker alongside Marcus Rea at openside, with Nick Timoney returning from Ireland camp to take the Number Eight jersey. Iain Henderson has been released from international duties to captain the side and will partner Alan O’Connor in the second row. Andrew Warwick and Marty Moore have been selected at loosehead and tighthead prop, with John Andrew retaining his starting berth at hooker.
Stewart Moore will line out at full-back, with Robert Baloucoune and Ben Moxham taking up the right and left-wing positions. James Hume returns from Six Nations duties to partner Stuart McCloskey in the centre. Nathan Doak and Billy Burns will once again start at scrum-half and out-half respectively.
Tom Stewart and John Cooney have both recovered from injury to be named among the replacements. Jack McGrath, Gareth Milasinovich, Sam Carter and Duane Vermeulen will provide the other forward options; Ian Madigan and Aaron Sexton are the back line reinforcements.
Ulster team to play Cardiff Rugby, United Rugby Championship Round 13, Friday 4 March at Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm kick-off, live on BBC Northern Ireland, Premier Sports, andRTÉ 2:
(15-9) Stewart Moore Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ben Moxham, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak;
(1-8) Andrew Warwick, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Jordi Murphy, Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney.
Replacements: Tom Stewart, Jack McGrath, Gareth Milasinovich, Sam Carter, Duane Vermeulen, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Aaron Sexton.
Josh Navidi returns from injury to start in Cardiff’s United Rugby Championship clash against Ulster at Kingspan Stadium on Friday (KO 7.35pm).
Dai Young’s Blue and Blacks return to competitive action for the first time in five weeks, having claimed a dramatic win over defending champions Leinster last time out.
Academy product Navidi, who was selected for the British and Irish Lions last summer, has been sidelined since October after suffering a shoulder injury in the opening minutes of the league encounter with Vodacom Bulls.
Navidi is part of an all-international homegrown back row, with James Botham handed the number eight jersey. Ellis Jenkins is named on the blindside, having been released from the Wales squad for this weekend’s action.
Matthew Screech also returns from the sidelines to partner Josh Turnbull in the boiler room. Club captain, Turnbull, will draw level with Ian Keatley in second place in the league’s all-time top appearance makers.
Loosehead prop Brad Thyer is set for his first Cardiff appearance of the season, forming the front row alongside Kirby Myhill and Dmitri Arhip.
Lloyd Williams and Jarrod Evans link up at half back with Rey Lee-Lo and Willis Halaholo reunited in midfield.
A back three of Aled Summerhill, Owen Lane and Hallam Amos complete the starting line-up.
Looking ahead to the clash, director of rugby Young said: “When you have players of equal quality, you can rotate a little bit, while not losing the performance you’re looking for.
“We want to make sure that we’re looking after the players so that when we go to South Africa we’ve got enough bodies.
“The league table isn’t pretty reading when you look at it, because we’re in twelfth place.
“But when you start scraping through the ceiling, you see that we’ve played the least amount of games.
“But the message to the players is that it’s in our hands. We’ve got the ability to go out to play and perform and if we pick up points along the way there’s no reason why we can’t climb the table rapidly.”
Young added: “Going to Belfast is a massive challenge, but it’s a great place to play rugby, and that’s the first thing.
“It’s a cauldron of rugby and the supporters there are fantastic. For me, it’s a venue you want to play at.
“People talk about daunting places to play, and yes it’s a tough place to go but it’s a fantastic atmosphere, whether it’s with you or against you. So yes it is somewhere you want to go to play.
“Hopefully a part of our upward trend is going to places and getting results. But Ulster’s form this season has shown how tough it’s going to be for us.”
Keiron Assiratti comes onto the bench to cover as hooker, while Jamie Hill could make his first appearance of the campaign.
James Ratti and Rhys Carré are also named amongst the replacements, joining Jenkins and Halaholo in being released from the Wales squad for the trip to Belfast.
Cardiff currently sit in 12th place in the table, but have up to five matches in-hand, with Friday’s encounter set to kick off an intense run-in for Young’s men.
Cardiff Rugby: Hallam Amos; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Aled Summerhill; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Brad Thyer, Kirby Myhill, Dmitri Arhip, Josh Turnbull (capt.), Matthew Screech, Ellis Jenkins, Josh Navidi, James Botham
Replacements: Keiron Assiratti, Rhys Carré, Will Davies-King, Teddy Williams, James Ratti, Jamie Hill, Ben Thomas, Matthew Morgan
Connacht squad to face Emirates Lions named
The Connacht management team have named the matchday 23 for tomorrow’s BKT United Rugby Championship tie with the Emirates Lions at The Sportsground (k/o 7.35pm)
Having missed last week’s trip to Newcastle through injury, Jack Carty returns to captain the side. The out-half could make history in the game – he needs six points to equal Eric Elwood’s all-time points scoring record of 1152 points for the province.
Scrum-half Caolin Blade is named alongside him while Cathal Forde and Tom Farrell are named at inside and outside-centre respectively. Tiernan O’Halloran lines out at full back for his 215th Connacht appearance with John Porch and Diarmuid Kilgallen on the wings.
The pack sees the Murray brothers Darragh and Niall paired together in the second row, while props Peter Dooley and Jack Aungier come in alongside hooker Shane Delahunt. Josh Murphy moves from the second row to blindside flanker, while Conor Oliver and Jarrad Butler are retained at 7 and 8.
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
“Tomorrow marks the end of a long block of games for us and one we want to finish on a high. If we get the win we head into the next block well in the running for a playoff spot – while achieving our aim of reaching the Challenge Cup knockouts – so it’s not a bad spot to be in.
We’re fully aware however that we need a win tomorrow to put ourselves in that position. The Lions are a formidable outfit and have improved even more since their first season last year, so we know a difficult challenge awaits us.”
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS EMIRATES LIONS
Saturday 28th January, 19:35 @ The Sportsground
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (214)
14. Diarmuid Kilgallen (12)
13. Tom Farrell (90)
12. Cathal Forde (7)
11. John Porch (72)
10. Jack Carty (190) (C)
9. Caolin Blade (161)
1. Peter Dooley (12)
2. Shane Delahunt (124)
3. Jack Aungier (43)
4. Darragh Murray (5)
5. Niall Murray (47)
6. Josh Murphy (11)
7. Conor Oliver (54)
8. Jarrad Butler (107)
16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (15)
17. Jordan Duggan (34)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (76)
19. Leva Fifita (22)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton (12)
21. Kieran Marmion (222)
22. Tom Daly (71)
23. Oran McNulty (12)
Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby
New Role for Ian Costello
Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm that Academy and Pathway Manager Ian Costello will assume the newly created role of Head of Rugby Operations at the end of this season.
Costello will take on further responsibility in an all-encompassing Head of Rugby Operations role that will oversee the long-term strategic development of the elite player pathway, succession planning, and provide recruitment support for developing, retaining, and recruiting players in conjunction with the Head Coach.
Commenting on the appointment, Munster Rugby CEO Ian Flanagan said, “We are delighted that Ian will step into this newly created role.
“This has been a work in progress in the background for some time as we look to align our resource support with the IRFU and other provinces.
“When Ian returned to the province as Academy Manager he was identified as the ideal candidate for this role when incorporating his previous coaching experience, managerial skill-set, and strategic abilities for aligning and developing our player pathway.”
Head Coach Graham Rowntree added, “I’m delighted to have someone of Cossie’s calibre (Ian Costello) taking on this role.
“We work very closely as it is through his academy role, and from my own personal point of view it has been a really positive working relationship. Ian and his academy team play a key role in everything we are trying to achieve each week.
“It’s great to have a dedicated resource to driving long-term succession planning and coordinate recruitment operations, and I believe it will be of huge benefit to not only me and our coaching team, but to Munster Rugby.”
Images & Content from Munster Rugby
Smith, Goosen combine as Jacobs returns ahead of Scarlets outing
The Vodacom Bulls have announced their matchday squad for round 13 of the 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship against Scarlets in Llanelli, Wales. The herd will see Chris Smith and Johan Goosen start, with Stravino Jacobs and Jan-Hendrick Wessels returning to the matchday 23.
Ruan Nortje (lock) returns to lead the side which sees Gerhard Steenekamp, Johann Grobbelaar and Mornay Smith combine as the front-row trio, with Ruan Vermaak joining his skipper in the second row. The back row will have Marco van Staden, Cyle Brink and Elrigh Louw adding power to the forwards pack. In the backline, Springbok duo Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie have been given rest which sees Stravino Jacobs return to left-wing whilst Johan Goosen slots in at fullback with Zak burger at scrumhalf. Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe combine as the centre pairing with David Kriel slotting in at right wing.
The Pretoria outfit will have Jan-Hendrick Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Cornal Hendricks and Wandisile Simelane ready to come on from the bench.
This will be the second time the two sides meet and the Welsh side are looking to bounce back from back-to-back league defeats whilst the visiting Vodacom Bulls will be looking to make it two wins from two in the competition.
Chris Rossouw – Vodacom Bulls Backline coach – said the combination of Smith and Goosen allows the side to exploit the double-kicking options. Rossouw also highlighted the importance of confidence going into the fixture against a Scarlets side with balance and confidence.
“Looking over the last month, I think we are high in the confidence bar last week. Against the Dragons, at the back of the Stormers and the Sharks, the guys bounced back and they were great on the evening in how they managed the game with great energy and confidence. We obviously took that to Exeter and last week we slipped but I thought it was a great learning curve for many of us who were in France for the first time,”
“We all know Scarlets are on high at the moment, but saying that, there is nice energy at our camp and it’s almost like a change of season for us as well,”
“Confidence will be important but obviously execution and being clinical on the night will be more important.”
Rossouw went on to say: “Scarlets are known as a team that attacks a lot. What they have done over the last two months is to find a balance between their attacking and kicking game, and how we manage that will be crucial for us and make sure we do not get pinned in our own half,”
“They have a great pack of forwards and an experienced backline, that remains one of their strengths so it is important for us to manage the kicking game as a whole,”
Asked about physicality and managing that against Scarlets, the backline coach responded: “We all know it starts there, we will need to be physical and look to dominate the collisions to have any momentum. For us it will be one of the focus points. We know they have some good runners and we also know their big boys have the ability to offload in tackles, so we need to make sure we identify those and look to limit those opportunities through our tackle techniques,”
“We will need to bring the physicality that we know the South African boys can bring” he concluded.
The fixture at Parc y Scarlets stadium will kick-off at 21h35pm (South African time) and will be broadcast LIVE on SuperSport Rugby.
VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johann Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Zak Burger, 10. Chris Smith, 11.Stravino Jacobs, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 14. David Kriel, 15. Johan Goosen
VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Jan-Hendrick Wessels, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Cornal Hendricks, 23. Wandisile Simelane
MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Werner Kruger – Scrum Coach, Pine Pienaar – Defense Coach, Andre Volsteedt – Strength & Conditioning, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist, Kyle Mayer – Physiotherapist, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, Simon Dyidi – Logistics Manager
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