Belfast Telegraph

Irish trio back as Anscombe puts faith in Jackson's boots

During the week Ulster coach Mark Anscombe made reference to the fact that his Ireland counterpart, Declan Kidney, does things his way based on facts of which others may be unaware.

"No point trying to second guess him," was Anscombe's view.

This week one could apply exactly the same words to Anscombe himself for in readiness for tonight's Ravenhill date with Benetton Treviso he has made a total of seven changes to the team beaten 20-14 by Glasgow last weekend.

The availability of three Irish international players – tight-head Declan Fitzpatrick, flanker/lock Iain Henderson and out-half Paddy Jackson – clearly played a huge part in his selection.

Fitzpatrick's inclusion on the right side of the front row sees acting captain John Afoa move across to loose-head for the first time in his Ulster sojourn.

Like Fitzpatrick, Henderson has been sent back from the Irish camp to get game time and he packs down on the blindside flank.

Jackson is Ulster's kicker tonight, with half-back colleague Ruan Pienaar giving way to his 21-year-old partner. As well as Fitzpatrick, hooker Rob Herring, lock Lewis Stevenson and open-side flanker Mike McComish return, with Nigel Brady, Callum Black, Neil McComb and Ali Birch dropping to the bench having started against Glasgow. Behind the pack, Darren Cave's return at 13 sees positional switches, with Andrew Trimble moving back out from centre to the right wing and Michael Allen transferring across from 14 to 11.

Expressing his pleasure at having Jackson, Fitzpatrick and Henderson back on board, Anscombe said: "It's good to give the guys who are on the periphery of the international team some game time.

"We welcome them back and with the experience that they bring, they will only strengthen our side."

For the third weekend in a row Treviso find themselves facing an Irish province. Two weeks ago Leinster doled out a 40-5 tanking at the RDS but last Sunday, back in Treviso, Munster found themselves picking up a hefty tab for the Italians' embarrassment in Dublin the previous weekend.

They went down 34-10, conceding five tries to their hosts.

Two of those try-scorers, right winger Ludovico Nitoglia and scrum-half Fabio Semenzato, start tonight as does stand-off Alberto Di Bernardo who kicked three conversions and a penalty against last weekend's visitors whose faces were as red as their jerseys in the wake of their drubbing.

Not surprisingly, coach Franco Smith has named the same back line with the exception of Andrea Pratichetti who is replaced by Luca Morisi at 13.

With some players released by Italy, the Treviso pack sees Christian Loamanu at No 8, alongside flankers Robert Barbieri and Dean Budd, while the locks are captain Corniel Van Zyl and Valerio Bernabo, making his 50th outing for Treviso.

In the front row, hooker Franco Sbaraglini plays alongside with Alberto De Marchi and Lorenzo Cittadini.

Belfast Telegraph


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