With a week of preparation and recovery under their belts, Ulster will be looking to build on a significant win over the Emirates Lions in South Africa with another performance away from home, this week against Graham Rowntree’s side.
Now in the habit of historic wins, with last season seeing Ulster pick-up wins at Stade Marcel-Michelin, the RDS and Stadium de Toulouse, Dan McFarland’s men will be looking to put recent challenges behind them to come home with a win, which would be the first at Thomond Park for the province since 2014.
Sitting second in the table with 21 points, and a postponed game still to play, Ulster currently have the lead on this week’s home team who, after a number of setbacks early in the season, are placed eleventh in the league table.
On this, Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said:
“A team like Munster has certain qualities that don’t go away. They might not have played their best rugby in the first part of the season, but there are strands within their game that make them extremely competitive, and I expect nothing less at the weekend.
“There is a reason they are so strong at home, and we’ll be expecting exactly that. It’s going to be a great challenge to get a win, but that’s a goal of ours.”
John Andrew set to hit 100 caps off the bench
Replacement hooker, John Andrew, will hit the 100 caps milestone for the province if called upon, as new signing, Rory Sutherland, who is also named among the forward replacements looks set to make his debut in the Ulster shirt.
Captain, Alan O’Connor, will once again lead the side alongside Wallaby, Sam Carter, in a second row that remains unchanged from the 37-39 victory in Ellis Park a fortnight ago.
Ulster born and bred, Andy Warwick, is selected at loosehead prop with Marty Moore, who last week received the call-up for next Friday’s Ireland ‘A’ fixture against the All Blacks XV, at tighthead prop, and hooker, Tom Stewart, who returns to more local shores after touring with the victorious Emerging Ireland squad, completing the front row.
22-year-old David McCann and this season’s new recruit, Sean Reffell, will start alongside the experience of Springbok number eight, Duane Vermeulen, to complete the pack.
Nathan Doak, who recently played opposite his childhood hero Ruan Pienaar in the Emerging Ireland victory over the Toyota Cheetahs, is named at scrum half, and partners Billy Burns, who scored one of Ulster’s five tries in the province’s recent fast-paced win in South Africa.
Looking to repeat his Player of the Match performance against Munster in a win that saw Ulster into last season’s URC semi-final will be James Hume, as he makes his return from an injury picked-up on international duty in New Zealand during the summer. Similar to teammate, Marty Moore, he will be involved in next Friday’s Ireland ‘A’ game, and partners up with Luke Marshall, who has been in fine form since making his own comeback from injury.
Saturday’s starting line-up is completed by a youthful back three made up of Ethan McIlroy, Ben Moxham and Stewart Moore, who come in with an average age of 22.
Alongside John Andrew and Rory Sutherland, forward cover on the bench comes from Gareth Milasinovich, Cormac Izuchukwu, and Jordi Murphy. On the bench for the backs are John Cooney, Angus Curtis, and Craig Gilroy.
Ulster team to play Munster, BKT United Rugby Championship Round 7, Saturday 29 October at Thomond Park (KO 5 15pm) live on RTÉ, Premier Sports & URC.tv.
(15-9): Stewart Moore, Ben Moxham, James Hume, Luke Marshall, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak;
(1-8): Andy Warwick, Tom Stewart, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor (Captain), Sam Carter, David McCann, Sean Reffell, Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: John Andrew, Rory Sutherland, Gareth Milasinovich, Cormac Izuchukwu, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Angus Curtis, Craig Gilroy.