Dawson to captain Ulster as Best is ruled out of Cardiff trip
Kieron Dawson will captain Ulster for the first time in the province's Magners League clash against Cardiff at the Arms Park tomorrow evening.
The 33-year-old flanker, who won 21 caps for Ireland, will deputise for Rory Best, who is ruled out of the contest with a hamstring injury.
Ulster coach Matt Williams believes Dawson's wealth of experience - he played in the English Premiership with London Irish for 10 seasons - and his tremendous work-rate make him an ideal replacement.
The coach is set to once again ring the changes, with six new faces expected in the line-up for Cardiff.
Most eye-catching is the expected selection of Mark McCrea at full-back while Rob Dewey is set to start alongside Andrew Trimble in the midfield with Paul Marshall returning at scrum-half and Ryan Caldwell coming in for Justin Harrison in the second row. Stephen Ferris is ruled out with an elbow injury so Roger Wilson will start at No 8, with Stuart Philpott, Darren Cave and Paul Steinmetz expected to come onto the bench.
Meanwhile, Warren Gatland believes Declan Kidney would be an ideal candidate to succeed Eddie O'Sullivan as Ireland coach.
The IRFU are expected to shortly name a temporary coaching ticket for the summer tour to New Zealand and Australia as their low-key search for a new coach continues. "Declan has done a huge job having won the Heineken Cup," said Gatland. "I think he could do a great job."
ULSTER (probable): ; M McCrea, A Trimble, R Dewey, M Bartholomeusz, N O'Connor, P Marshall; J Fitzpatrick, N Brady, T Court, C Del Fava, R Caldwell, M McCullough, K Dawson, R Wilson.
Replacements: S Philpott, B Young, J Harrison, N Best, I Boss, D Cave, P Steinmetz