Belfast Telegraph

Kiss backs Euro new boys to sparkle

By Jonathan Bradley

Brave Ulster rugby supremo Les Kiss has put his faith in inexperienced prop duo Kyle McCall and Ricky Lutton for this afternoon's Champions League opener against French side Oyonnax (1pm kick-off).

The pair have been handed surprise first starts at this level.

It is a European debut for McCall, who only made a first senior start last week, while Lutton (pictured) has only two sub appearances in the old Heineken Cup to his name, but both will be boosted having put in big showings last time out in the Pro12 win over Newport Dragons.

Wiehahn Herbst and Callum Black, Ulster's first-choice props since John Afoa and Tom Court left Kingspan, are both on the bench while the starting side is boosted by the return of Rory Best, Ruan Pienaar, Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy.

Ulster travelled to the Rhône-Alpes region yesterday knowing that, with Toulouse and Saracens to come, that Top 14 strugglers Oyonnax represent the best chance of an away win in Pool 1.

Having sacked their coach, Olivier Azam on Thursday ­- Jacques Brunel and Pierre Berbizier have been linked with the role but there will be no successor in place for today's game - Oyonnax are fielding an understrength panel with many of their bigger name players held in reserve.

Usual starting halfbacks Piri Weepu and Nicky Robinson, former Ulster number 8 Pedrie Wannenburg and prop SoaneTonga'uiha all start on the bench.

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