Clermont v Ulster team news: International duo return as Ulster name strong squad for crunch Champions Cup clash
Marcell Coetzee and Jordi Murphy have both returned to Ulster's line-up for Saturday's European Champions Cup clash in Clermont.
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Dan McFarland makes just two changes to the side that enjoyed a bonus point win over Munster last weekend, as Coetzee returns following a concussion while Murphy is back after recovering from an illness.
The back-rowers come in at the expense of Matthew Rea and Nick Timoney, Coetzee at number eight, Murphy at openside and Sean Reidy shifting to blindside flanker.
John Cooney, as announced earlier in the week, came through a head injury assessment to retain his place alongside half-back partner Billy Burns.
Clermont are without Georgian tighthead prop Davit Zirakashvili, out with an elbow injury, although scrum-half Morgan Parra returns to captain the side on his 250th appearance. Alexandre Lapandry and Nick Abendanon are also back after being rested in the Top 14 defeat to Racing 92 last week. Former Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw is named among the replacements.
The game (kick-off 1pm) is expected to be a play-off for top spot in Pool 3 and vital quarter-final seeding, with Ulster and Clermont heavily fancied to come through their respective games against Bath and Harlequins a week later.
In Ulster's back three, Will Addison retains the full-back position, and will line out alongside Jacob Stockdale and Robert Baloucoune on the wings
Last week’s man-of-the-match, Stuart McCloskey is once again partnered with Luke Marshall in midfield.
In the forwards, Jack McGrath, Rob Herring and Marty Moore make up the starting front row. Iain Henderson will lead the side and is joined by Alan O’Connor in the second row.
Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Matthew Rea are the forward bench options, and David Shanahan, Bill Johnston and Matt Faddes provide the backline reinforcements.
Ulster team to play Clermont
(15-9): Will Addison, Robert Baloucoune, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney.
(1-8): Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (C), Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.
Replacements: Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, David Shanahan, Bill Johnston, Matt Faddes.
Clermont team to play Ulster
(15-9): Nick Abendanon, Damian Penaud, Isaia Toeava, George Moala, Alivereti Raka, Camille Lopez, Morgan Parra (C).
(1-8): Etienne Falgoux, John Ulugia, Rabah Slimani, Paul Jedrasiak, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Arthur Iturria, Alexandre Lapandry, Fritz Lee.
Replacements: Yohan Beheregaray, Loni Uhila, Sipili Falatea, Sitaleki Timani, Alexandre Fischer, Greig Laidlaw, Jake McINtyre, Apisai Naqalevu.
Belfast Telegraph Digital