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Young gun Alex Thompson aiming to make mark by starring for the 'A' team

By Michael Sadlier

The curtain comes up on tonight's double-header at the Kingspan when Ulster 'A' meet their Canadian counterparts (kick-off 5.15pm).

It represents a great opportunity for several of Ulster's young rising stars to be seen on a bigger stage than usual and for second row Alex Thompson, this game certainly ticks all the right boxes.

This offers Thompson - who played in last weekend's winning Academy side in France at Jeremy Davidson's Aurillac - the chance to take a more notable scalp over a squad overseen by Canada's senior coach, a certain Mark Anscombe who parted with Ulster in the summer of 2014.

Thompson scored in Aurillac and, after getting his first senior start in the opening pre-season defeat against Leinster at Navan, the promising 20-year-old is very eager to tog out at the Kingspan with a host of fellow Academy players.

"It will be absolutely brilliant to get a run-out there," said the lock who is in his third and final year in the Academy.

"This 'A' game is definitely one we have been building towards and we also know that there are a lot of exciting opportunities this year."

Kyle McCall is leading the side and he is joined by his brother Zac, who is at hooker, while Craig Trenier is at tight-head prop.

Thompson packs down in the engine room with new signing Kieran Treadwell while the back row contains Stephen Mulholland, Conall Boomer and Nick Timoney.

Angus Lloyd and Johnny McPhillips are the half-backs while Rory Butler and Mark Best occupy midfield with Aaron Cairns, Conor Kelly and David Busby making up the 'A' team's back three.

Ulster 'A': D Busby; C Kelly, M Best, R Butler, A Cairns; J McPhillips, A Lloyd; K McCall (capt), Z McCall, C Trenier, K Treadwell, A Thompson, N Timoney, C Boomer, S Mulholland.

Replacements: A McBurney, T O'Hagan, M Lagan, P Cooper, A Burke, A Hall, M Rea, J Stewart, A Magrath, C Field

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