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Luke Marshall centre stage as Kiss shuffles the deck

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 04/12/2015

Luke Marshall
Luke Marshall

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss has rung the changes ahead of tonight's Guinness PRO12 encounter with Edinburgh at the Kingspan Stadium (7.35pm).

There are seven alterations from the starting side that took on Leinster at the RDS a week ago as management aim to find a balance between the need for PRO12 points and maintaining a fresh squad through December.

This month also contains a crucial home and away double header against Toulouse in the Champions Cup and a trip to Galway to face league-leading Connacht back on the domestic front.

Rob Herring replaces Rory Best as both hooker and captain for his first start since facing Newport at the beginning of October and is one of five changes to the Ulster pack.

Best, his side's top performer in the two recent defeats to Saracens and Leinster, is given a rest entirely with John Andrew the hooker held in reserve on the bench.

While Kyle McCall maintains his place at loosehead, Herring is not the only change to the front-row with Ricky Lutton making his first start of the year in the No.3 jersey and Wiehahn Herbst dropping to the bench, where he is joined by Andrew Warwick.

Franco van der Merwe, given a breather for the trip to Dublin last week, returns to his familiar spot in the second row alongside Dan Tuohy with Alan O'Connor back in the fold and offering cover for the engine room from the bench.

That means Iain Henderson, who started at lock last week, reverts back to blindside flanker in what is an all-changed back-row.

Chris Henry and Roger Wilson, used as substitutes against Leinster, are back at openside and No.8 respectively with Sean Reidy out of the 23 along with Robbie Diack, who had to undergo return to play protocols this week. Nick Williams is on the bench.

In the backline, there are two alterations with Luke Marshall and Rory Scholes coming into the side.

Marshall partners Darren Cave in the midfield, making his first appearance in the senior side since the opening weekend of October after undergoing thumb surgery, while the half-back pairing of Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar is maintained for the third game in a row.

In the back-three, Peter Nelson's impressive outing at full-back last week in the RDS sees him hold onto his starting place with Louis Ludik on the bench alongside fellow backs Paul Marshall and Stuart McCloskey.

Craig Gilroy, who has featured in all of Ulster's games to date this year, is given a break this weekend with Rory Scholes getting the start on the opposite wing from Andrew Trimble.

Belfast Telegraph

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