| 7.2°C Belfast

Stockdale released from Ireland duty to start for Ulster as McFarland rotates heavily for Dragons trip

Close

Guinness PRO14, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, Northern Ireland 2/1/2021
Ulster vs Munster
Ulster's Jacob Stockdale during the warm-up 
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Guinness PRO14, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, Northern Ireland 2/1/2021 Ulster vs Munster Ulster's Jacob Stockdale during the warm-up Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Guinness PRO14, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, Northern Ireland 2/1/2021 Ulster vs Munster Ulster's Jacob Stockdale during the warm-up Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Dan McFarland promised there would be changes in the wake of Ulster's Guinness PRO14 challenge coming to an end and the head coach has duly delivered.

McFarland has opted for seven alterations to the side that will face Dragons at the Principality Stadium on Saturday (3pm), with Ireland's Jacob Stockdale named at full-back for the game in Cardiff.

Michael Lowry will make his first start at fly-half since the opening game of the season against Benetton, switching from full-back to accommodate Stockdale, while there is a start at blindside flanker for Ireland Under-20s captain David McCann.

Craig Gilroy, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle and Alby Mathewson are all introduced to the back line, while Ross Kane, McCann and Sean Reidy rotate into the pack as McFarland tests the depth of his squad.

Stuart McCloskey is also released from Ireland duty to start at inside centre with Alan O'Connor taking over the captaincy as flanker Jordi Murphy is rested.

While the game has nothing riding on it given Ulster are out of the running to reach the Guinness PRO14 Final after last week's defeat to Leinster, this will be a chance for several fringe players to try and impress.

Stockdale will certainly want to impress Ireland head coach Andy Farrell as he is joined in the back three by Gilroy and Lyttle, while Moore slots in at outside centre alongside McCloskey.

Rugby Round Up Newsletter

Exclusives and expert analysis from the sports team straight to your inbox

This field is required

Having been hugely impressive in the 15 jersey this season, Lowry gets his first chance to shine at fly-half against the Welsh outfit and has the experienced Mathewson inside him to help.

Up front, Eric O'Sullivan and John Andrew are retained in the front row alongside new man Kane, while the second row of O'Connor and Kieran Treadwell is unchanged for the fourth week in succession.

Marcell Coetzee misses out through injury, while Murphy is rested, so McCann gets another shot to show his undoubted potential on the blindside, while Reidy makes his first start since December at openside and Nick Timoney rounds off the squad at No.8.

On the bench, Rainey Old Boys clubman Brad Roberts is named as reserve hooker with Academy prospects Callum Reid and Cormac Izuchukwu also included in the forwards replacements alongside Gareth Milasinovich and Matty Rea.

In the backs, Ian Madigan drops to the bench after starting against Leinster, with David Shanahan and Academy winger Ethan McIlroy completing the matchday squad.

The game will be played at the Principality Stadium rather than the Dragons' home at Rodney Parade due to necessary re-surfacing taking place at the Newport ground.

Ulster team to face Dragons

15. Jacob Stockdale; 14. Craig Gilroy, 13. Stewart Moore, 12. Stuart McCloskey, 11. Rob Lyttle; 10. Michael Lowry, 9. Alby Mathewson; 1. Eric O'Sullivan, 2. John Andrew, 3. Ross Kane; 4. Alan O'Connor (captain), 5. Kieran Treadwell; 6. David McCann, 7. Sean Reidy, 8. Nick Timoney.

Replacements: 16. Brad Roberts, 17. Callum Reid, 18. Gareth Milasinovich, 19. Cormac Izuchukwu, 20. Matty Rea, 21. David Shanahan, 22. Ian Madigan, 23. Ethan McIlroy.

Dragons

15. Josh Lewis; 14. Jonah Holmes, 13. Aneurin Owen, 12. Jamie Roberts, 11. Rio Dyer; 10. Sam Davies, 9. Rhodri Williams (captain); 1. Brok Harris, 2. Richard Hibbard, 3. Lloyd Fairbrother; 4. Joe Davies, 5. Joe Maksymiw; 6. Harrison Keddie, 7. Ollie Griffiths, 8. Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: 16. Rhys Lawrence, 17. Josh Reynolds, 18. Aaron Jarvis, 19. Matthew Screech, 20. Ben Carter, 21. Dan Baker, 22. Gonzalo Bertranou, 23. Nick Tompkins.

Belfast Telegraph


Top Videos



Privacy