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Nelson and Olding back in action as Ireland duo are returned

By Jonathan Bradley

The highly-anticipated debut of Marcell Coetzee in an Ulster jersey is finally here with the Springbok back-rower starting at the base of Ulster's scrum against Edinburgh this evening (7.35pm kick-off).

The 25-year-old - who signed a three-year deal a year ago but has had to wait for his first outing thanks to an ACL injury sustained for his old club, the Sharks in South Africa - is the headline act of what is a strong selection from Les Kiss despite the Six Nations fixtures this weekend.

The province were returned two of their Irish contingent - both Stuart McCloskey and Tommy Bowe will take places on the bench - but are also further boosted by players ready for action again after injury.

Peter Nelson hasn't featured for the side since Edinburgh's last visit to Belfast in December 2015, but has two club games under his belt for Ballynahinch in recent weeks.

He slots straight back into the No.10 jersey left unoccupied by Paddy Jackson's starting role with the national side.

Stuart Olding is another making his return, in his case having been out since November, and joins Darren Cave in the midfield.

Paul Marshall, having been on the bench for the two European games before the break, has won back the No.9 jersey from Dave Shanahan, who is on the bench ahead of Ruan Pienaar's expected return to face Glasgow Warriors next week.

With Louis Ludik at full-back, and Charles Piutau and Jacob Stockdale on the wings, there is plenty of senior experience in the backline at a time of year when sides can often have a youthful hue.

There is a slightly less battle-hardened look to the tight-five, however.

With Rory Best captaining Ireland and Rob Herring nursing an injury, John Andrew makes his first start in almost a year with Ricky Lutton and Andy Warwick getting the nod at prop.

While Wiehahn Herbst and Callum Black have over 150 Ulster appearances between them on the bench, Johnny Murphy is aiming for just a second provincial cap if he comes on as a replacement at hooker.

Alan O'Connor is back from a spell out with concussion and partners Kieran Treadwell in the engine room, with Pete Browne providing cover in the absence of Iain Henderson.

With Coetzee in the back-row, he is joined by two Irish-capped players in the shape of Robbie Diack and Chris Henry.

The latter will captain the side from the openside position.

Sean Reidy is a ready replacement on the bench and will be making his 50th appearance for Ulster should he be called into action.

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