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Cairns debut as Kiss' depleted side take on Edinburgh

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 04/11/2016

Back in: Sam Windsor will make his third Ulster appearance
Back in: Sam Windsor will make his third Ulster appearance

Without a host of stars through injury and international commitments, Les Kiss has been forced to shuffle his deck for tonight's trip to face Edinburgh at Murrayfield (7.35pm kick-off).

Four Ulstermen have travelled to Chicago as part of the Ireland squad that will take on New Zealand at Solider Field tomorrow, leaving the province without Rory Best, Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne and Craig Gilroy.

Neither Paddy Jackson or Stuart Olding will be involved.

Jackson is absent due to what Kiss said was IRFU game-management while Olding is currently battling a hip flexor issue.

The pair have been assisting police in relation to alleged sex offences after being arrested back in June.

Both reject the allegations that emerged after Jackson was left out of the Ireland squad for what were described as "personal reasons".

With the likes of Louis Ludik, Stuart McCloskey and Darren Cave also out injured, Kiss has had to re-jig his backline meaning just a third Ulster appearance for centre Sam Windsor and a potential competitive debut off the bench for Academy product Aaron Cairns.

Ballynahinch man Cairns, who has played international rugby as part of the Sevens set-up, has been the stand-out for Ulster's 'A' side this season and featured for the senior team during pre-season.

Windsor will be partnered in the midfield by Luke Marshall, who has been deemed surplus to requirements by Ireland this week, while Brett Herron starts at 10 in place of Jackson and reprises a half-back partnership with Ruan Pienaar that started the season's first two games.

Charles Piutau, who quickly found himself in the centre last week, returns to full-back while Rob Lyttle's try-scoring effort off the bench in the defeat at Munster is rewarded with a starting berth opposite Tommy Bowe.

Up front, there are just the two changes to the pack and the tight five is the same unit that took on their inter-pro rivals.

Callum Black has retained the number one jersey with both Kyle McCall and Andy Warwick on the bench while John Andrew is the remaining front-row cover.

Rob Herring skippers the side from hooker with Wiehahn Herbst, having come through his return from long-term injury seven days ago, to start again at tight-head.

Fellow returnee Dan Tuohy is also retained at lock with his engine room partner again being Franco van der Merwe.

That leaves Pete Browne free to start at six with Robbie Diack dropping to the bench where he joins a fit-again Jacob Stockdale, Paul Marshall and Conor Joyce.

Clive Ross comes in for Roger Wilson with Sean Reidy rounding out the loose forward trio.

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