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Jordi Murphy returns to make first appearance of the season for Ulster against Dragons



All set: Ulster's Jordi Murphy is relishing a return to action

All set: Ulster's Jordi Murphy is relishing a return to action

�INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

All set: Ulster's Jordi Murphy is relishing a return to action

Jordi Murphy will make his first appearance of the season when Ulster take on Dragons at an empty Kingspan Stadium on Sunday afternoon (3pm kick-off).

The Irish back-rower missed out on both the season-opening victories over Benetton and Ospreys earlier this month but is back in his familiar number seven jersey for the visit of the Welsh region.

He'll be alongside the familiar faces of Sean Reidy and Marcell Coetzee, with Nick Timoney also set for a seasonal bow off the bench, as after two weeks of rotation Dan McFarland turns to what is presumed to be his favoured loose forward options.

In what will be the first game this season without their Irish internationals, John Andrew gets the nod to replace Rob Herring at hooker with Adam McBurney having to make do with a place on the bench, while Rob Lyttle switches to full-back from wing in light of Jacob Stockdale's absence.

Denied the services of Iain Henderson through suspension rather than Six Nations duty, Wallaby lock Sam Carter returns to take his place as both starting lock and captain.

With the experienced pair of Louis Ludik and Matt Faddes manning the wings, the pairings at centre and half-back, James Hume and Stewart Moore, and John Cooney and Ian Madigan, respectively remain unchanged from the win over Ospreys.

Up front Eric O'Sullivan gets a first start of the season at loosehead where, with Jack McGrath absent, Kyle McCall will offer back-up and on the other side of the scrum Marty Moore keeps his place with Ross Kane on the bench.

Alan O'Connor joins Carter in the engine room with Kieran Treadwell again a replacement while Dave Shanahan, Bill Johnston and Mike Lowry are the backline on the bench.

For Dragons, former British and Irish Lion Jamie Roberts starts on the bench.

Ulster: R Lyttle; M Faddes, J Hume, S Moore, L Ludik; I Madigan, J Cooney; E O'Sullivan, J Andrew, M Moore; A O'Connor, S Carter (capt); S Reidy, J Murphy, M Coetzee.

Replacements: A McBurney, K McCall, R Kane, K Treadwell, D Shanahan, B Johnston, M Lowry.

Dragons: J Holmes, J Rosser, A Warren, J Dixon, A Hewitt, S Davies, R Williams (c); G Bateman, R Hibbard, L Fairbrother, J Davies, M Screech, H Keddie, T Basham, O Griffiths

Replacements: E Shipp, B Harris, C Coleman , J Maksymiw, B Fry, T Knoyle, A Robson, J Roberts

Belfast Telegraph