Ulster rugby coach Mark Anscombe has made 11 personnel changes to his team for this weekend’s RaboDirect PRO12 encounter with Glasgow at Scotstoun (kick off 7.35pm).
Neil Walsh and Conor Joyce will start in an Ulster shirt for the first time after being named on the left wing and back row respectively. Walsh made his debut as a late replacement in last week’s win over Zebre, while Joyce’s previous appearance was in the 2011 Boxing Day defeat to Leinster.
The side will be captained by tighthead prop John Afoa, who is joined in an all new front row by Nigel Brady and Callum Black. Dan Tuohy and Neil McComb come in to the second row in place of regular skipper Johann Muller and Lewis Stevenson. Robbie Diack, the only forward retained from the Zebre fixture, will again start at number 8 and will combine in the back row with Joyce and Ali Birch.
With Paddy Jackson starting for Ireland this weekend, Anscombe has called upon Paddy Wallace to direct affairs from outhalf. The backline reshuffle also results in Andrew Trimble moving to outside centre where he is partnered in midfield by Stuart Olding, who produced an impressive performance off the bench last weekend. Michael Allen will line up on the right wing for his 12th cap, with Walsh on the opposite flank. Ruan Pienaar (scrumhalf) and Ricky Andrew (fullback) complete the backline.
Andrew Warwick again has an opportunity to earn his first cap after being named among the replacements for the second time this season. Rob Herring, Ricky Lutton, Alan O’Connor and Mike McComish are the other forwards named on the bench. Paul Marshall, Darren Cave and Chris Cochrane are the backline options and should provide some spark if called upon.
Ulster remain at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table despite having a won two, lost two record from their last four contests. Ulster have lost only one away gamethis season: 10-24 at Munster in the PRO12 inDecember, whilst they have won their last seven games against Scottish opponents in all tournaments.
They face a stern test against a Glasgow Warriors side who have won their last five RaboDirect PRO12 encounters since their 3-31 defeat in Munster in December. Glasgow have won just one of their last seven fixtures with Irish provinces: 27-17 at home to Connacht in September.
Ulster XV & replacements: (15-9): R Andrew, M Allen, A Trimble, S Olding, N Walsh, P Wallace, R Pienaar;
(1-8): C Black, N Brady, J Afoa (Capt.), N McComb, D Tuohy, C Joyce, A Birch, R Diack;
Replacements (16-23): R Herring, R Lutton, A Warwick, A O’Connor, M McComish, P Marshall, D Cave, C Cochrane.