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Ulster team news: Robert Baloucoune set for first start in Dragons clash

By Adam McKendry

ULSTER head coach Dan McFarland has made five changes to the side that lost to Racing 92 in Paris for tomorrow night's return to the Guinness PRO14 against the Dragons at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 7.55pm).

Six of Ulster's eight Ireland call-ups will feature in the game, with winger Jacob Stockdale rested after playing all 80 minutes in both European matches and scrum-half John Cooney given another week to recover from a shoulder problem.

Captain Rory Best starts at hooker, with the returning Rob Herring his deputy on the bench, while Iain Henderson, Jordi Murphy, Stuart McCloskey and new cap Will Addison are all in the run-on team.

Abbey Insurance Academy winger Robert Baloucoune is set for his debut having been named on the wing, the Ireland Sevens flier having impressed during Ulster A's recent Celtic Cup campaign.

He's joined on the opposite wing by Australian international Henry Speight, who has recovered from a knee injury to be named in the starting line-up, while Baloucoune's fellow Academy prospect Michael Lowry is retained at full-back.

The centre pairing of Addison and McCloskey remains unchanged, while there's a first start of the season for fly-half Johnny McPhillips as Billy Burns is rested after starting every game up to this point, and David Shanahan holds onto the scrum-half jersey.

Eric O'Sullivan rotating in at loosehead is the only change in a front row containing captain Best and tighthead Marty Moore, while Kieran Treadwell and Iain Henderson is an unchanged lock pairing.

Number eight Nick Timoney is also given the week off, meaning Sean Reidy joins Murphy and Marcell Coetzee at the back of the scrum on the blindside, with Coetzee shifting to No.8.

There's a return for Herring on the bench after shaking off a toe issue, with Andy Warwick and Tom O'Toole the replacement props, Alan O'Connor and Greg Jones the loose cover in the forwards, while Johnny Stewart, Craig Gilroy and Academy winger Angus Kernohan form the backs subs.

Ulster team to play Dragons on Friday 26 October (kick-off 7.55pm)

15. Michael Lowry, 14. Robert Baloucoune, 13. Will Addison, 12. Stuart McCloskey, 11. Henry Speight, 10. Johnny McPhillips, 9. David Shanahan; 1. Eric O'Sullivan, 2. Rory Best (captain), 3. Marty Moore, 4. Kieran Treadwell, 5. Iain Henderson, 6. Sean Reidy, 7. Jordi Murphy, 8. Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements: 16. Rob Herring, 17. Andy Warwick, 18. Tom O'Toole, 19. Alan O'Connor, 20. Greg Jones, 21. Johnny Stewart, 22. Angus Kernohan, 23. Craig Gilroy.

Dragons

15. Jordan Williams, 14. Daf Howells, 13. Adam Warren, 12. Jarryd Sage, 11. Will Talbot-Davies, 10. Jason Tovey, 9. Rhodri Williams; 1. Brok Harris, 2. Richard Hibbard (captain), 3. Lloyd Fairbrother, 4. Matthew Screech, 5. Lewis Evans, 6. Huw Taylor, 7. Nic Cudd, 8. Harri Keddie.

Replacements: 16. Rhys Lawrence, 17. Aaron Jarvis, 18. Ryan Bevington, 19. Joe Davies, 20. Taine Basham, 21. Tavis Knoyle, 22. Jack Dixon, 23. Zane Kirchner.

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