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Kiss expects stars to deliver on vow to restore pride

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss has called on his side to make good on the promises made throughout the week when they take on Bordeaux-Begles at Kingspan Stadium this afternoon (1pm kick-off).

After a run of eight losses in 12 games, the province's hopes of securing a return to the Champions Cup quarter-finals ended with last weekend's reverse to Exeter but the squad have issued various calls to show their pride in the jersey in what is now essentially a meaningless contest for both sides.

"The boys are still upbeat," said Kiss.

"They're disappointed with the results recently but we've got to get out there against Bordeaux and put on a performance this week.

"It's very important for us. At home we need to make sure we do the right things.

"Momentum is always key but the two-week break coming up is a chance as well to work hard on a few things and parts of our game.

"You can gain some momentum with a win here but more importantly it's about doing the things that the boys promised to each other this week and delivering on that."

The Australian has been able to restore both Tommy Bowe and Darren Cave to his starting side, while Craig Gilroy is fit enough to take a spot on the bench.

The rest of the backline is unchanged from the Exeter defeat, meaning young Dave Shanahan is retained at scrum-half after making his first senior start only a week ago when preferred to the more experienced Paul Marshall.

"Dave has really responded to the pressure we've put on him," said Kiss. "With Ruan (Pienaar)injured, him and Marshy have to hold the fort and I thought last week Dave did a fantastic job.

"It's nice to see him stepping up and taking his chance."

It will be a red letter day too for prop Johnny Simpson, who makes his first start for the side after three bench appearances, while the return of fit-again Ricky Lutton to the bench is a further boost.

"Johnny has trained all week in the front-row," added Kiss. "Ricky had to sit out a few sessions, so he's got the start.

"He's done really well recently and he gets a chance.

"You have to lean on players in your squad throughout the season and that's their opportunity to show what they can do."

Simpson joins Rory Best and Andy Warwick in the front-row but there are changes to the engine room where Robbie Diack is fit again and Cardiff-bound Franco van der Merwe is restored to the starting line-up with Kieran Treadwell dropping to the bench.

That pairing means Iain Henderson starts instead at blindside flanker, joining Sean Reidy and Chris Henry in the back-row.

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