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Solomons - Ulster among best teams

Alan Solomons admits his Edinburgh side will face one of the best teams in Europe when they take on Ulster at Ravenhill on Friday night.

The Gunners head coach returns to Belfast to face the side he used to lead for the first time since taking up his post with the capital club.

The Irishmen reached the knock-out rounds of the Celtic League every year Solomons was at the helm between 2001 and 2004, lifted the trophy in 2003 and enjoyed a three-year unbeaten home record in the Heineken Cup.

The Murrayfield men do, however, travel with some confidence having won three of their l ast four matches in all competitions.

Solomons said: "I'm certainly looking forward to going back to Ravenhill. I've got very fond memories of Ulster and haven't been there for a number of years, so I'm really looking forward to it.

"Away fixtures in the RaboDirect PRO12 are always tough and Ulster are a side that have been built over 10 or 12 years to become one of the top sides in Europe.

"They were in the PRO12 final last year, the Heineken Cup final the year before that and have ambitions to win these competitions.

"We are a side that is rebuilding and are at a different place at this point.

"For me, this is going to be a really tough fixture but presents these players with an opportunity to build on their performance against Zebre in a tougher fixture, against a highly ranked side at a very tough venue."

The South African has made two changes to the Edinburgh side for Friday's fixture.

Lock Ollie Atkins has been handed his first start in the place of Grant Gilchrist - who is starting for Scotland in Saturday's Autumn Test match against Australia - while scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne comes in for the injured Sean Kennedy (knee).

Grayson Hart is ready to make his debut from the bench, as is l ock Ben Toolis, while full-back Tom Brown returns to the squad for the first time since injuring his ankle in the pre-season clash with Newcastle Falcons in August.

Solomons added: "Sammy has come through the elite development programme and is a young Scottish talent with a lot of potential so it's great that he gets another opportunity to start.

"Grayson also gets a chance. It's been tough for him with Greig Laidlaw as our captain and scrum-half, and Sammy and Sean Kennedy both doing exceptionally well. It's been difficult for him to get an opportunity until now.

"Ollie Atkins is in a similar situation. He has come off the bench for us a couple of times so, with Sean Cox taking a head knock in training and Gilcho with the Scotland team, he too has the chance to start.

"It's also exciting to see young Ben Toolis make the bench having completed his conditioning. He played very well for London Irish during his loan spell, so it's good to bring him in our system."


From Belfast Telegraph