Ulster new boys to get a run out
Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has called up two new faces as his side kicks-off their pre-season campaign against French outfit Bayonne tonight at Stade Jean Dauger.
Outhalf James McKinney and winger Ricky Andrew will both make their debut for the senior Ulster side.
McKinney, who was awarded a development contract with Ulster ahead of this season, spent the early part of the summer in Italy as part of the Ireland U20 squad which competed in the IRB Junior World Championships.
Andrew, meanwhile, is back in the province having spent last year at Castres Academy, while completing a compulsory year in France for his French and Spanish joint honours degree. The 21-year-old is a current member of the Phoenix Ulster Academy and plays his club rugby for Ballymena.
Two more Academy players, Adam Macklin and John Burns, are also in line to taste their first action in a senior Ulster shirt, but they will start among the replacements in the south of France.
Joining them on the bench will be more fresh faces, in the shape of new boys, Callum Black, Lewis Stevenson and Mike McComish.
There is a more familiar look about the rest of the Ulster team.
Darren Cave is partnered in the centre by Ian Whitten, while 26-year-old scrum half Paul Marshall is the most senior member of the backline, which includes Conor Gaston and Adam D’Arcy in the back three alongside Andrew.
Tom Court, Andi Kyriacou and Declan Fitzpatrick make up the front row, while Tim Barker and Neil McComb link up as a second row partnership. Chris Henry will captain the side from openside flanker alongside Pedrie Wannenburg and Robbie Diack.
Dan Tuohy, Ian Humphreys, Nevin Spence, Luke Marshall and Nigel Brady are being rested and, of course, the international players are also missing.
Ulster (15-9): A D’Arcy; C Gaston, D Cave, I Whitten, R Andrew; J McKinney, P Marshall; (1-8): T Court, A Kyriacou, D Fitzpatrick, T Barker, N McComb, P Wannenburg, C Henry, R Diack. Replacements: C Black, P McAllister, A Macklin, J Cronin, J Burns, L Stevenson, M McComish, W Faloon, I Porter, P Jackson, C Gilroy.