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Stuart Olding returns but Ruan Pienaar is still unavailable

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 30/01/2016

Try that: Stuart Olding en route to crossing the whitewash during his return for Ulster ‘A’ against Bristol
Try that: Stuart Olding en route to crossing the whitewash during his return for Ulster ‘A’ against Bristol

Stuart Olding will make his first Ulster outing in 10 months against Treviso this evening (5pm kick-off) and gets the start in his favoured inside centre position.

The 22-year-old made just two appearances in 2015 thanks to a dislocated elbow and a torn ACL but made a try-scoring return for the 'A' side last weekend against Bristol and is paired alongside Darren Cave in midfield for the province's trip to the Guinness PRO12's bottom side.

Director of Rugby Les Kiss said: "Stuart coming back into the fray is brilliant for us. We know what he can do and what he can deliver.

"From his own perspective, coming back last week, putting a try on and delivering a few nice touches was brilliant for him.

"The plus for us is that the last month and a half he's been training quite a lot with us so he's familiar with it all.

"I gave Stu his Test debut when I had the national team (on the 2013 tour to North America) and it was challenging even then to say where you play him.

"He gives you all these options; 12, 15, 10, that's what's beautiful about the guy.

"Wherever he plays you want him to get the ball at first or second receiver as much as possible.

"If he's got the ball in his hand then he's a dangerous player. The number he's got on his back becomes less important.

"I could put him at wing and he'd still end up at first or second receiver. He's such an intelligent player."

With Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne on Ireland duty, wing Rory Scholes and fit-again full-back Louis Ludik come into a back-three with Craig Gilroy keeping his place in the No.11 jersey.

Out-half Paddy Jackson has also spent the week at Carton House, meaning Ian Humphreys gets the nod at No.10 where he starts alongside Paul Marshall for the first time since Ulster's away win over Oyonnax.

Despite the stuttering first-half of that performance, Kiss has every faith in his half-back duo.

"(Humphreys) was running riot for a while there last week which is really pleasing from our perspective," he said.

"Marshy too, I thought he played really well. It's pleasing for us and obviously they're right in the picture this week."

Ruan Pienaar is still struggling with a virus so David Shanahan is again on the bench where Luke Marshall will also hope for the chance to impress after being returned by Joe Schmidt for the weekend.

Hooker Rob Herring has also been released from Ireland's Six Nations base to start and captain the side with Kyle McCall's head knock seeing Callum Black come into the team at loosehead.

Ricky Lutton remains at tight-head with the front-row cover provided by Andy Warwick, John Andrew and Bronson Ross.

Franco van der Merwe, fresh from signing a one-year extension, and Alan O'Connor continue in the engine room, backed up by Peter Browne after Lewis Stevenson's move to Exeter, but Kiss has been forced to alter his back-row.

With Robbie Diack rested and Nick Williams having aggravated his groin, Roger Wilson gets the start at No.8 with Clive Ross coming in at blindside.

Sean Reidy continues in the seven jersey with former Ireland Under-20 back-rower Lorcan Dow set to make his senior debut off the bench.

Another looking for a first Ulster cap from the replacements is Ireland Under-20 wing Jacob Stockdale.

Belfast Telegraph

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