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Ospreys vs Ulster team news: Craig Gilroy set for 200th cap as province make seven changes for trip to Wales

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It's set to be a landmark day for Craig Gilroy. Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

It's set to be a landmark day for Craig Gilroy. Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

It's set to be a landmark day for Craig Gilroy. Pic: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Craig Gilroy could become Ulster’s eighth ‘double-centurion’ against Ospreys at the Swansea.com Stadium but will have to make do with celebrating his red-letter day from the bench.

The 30-year-old winger brought up his 199th senior provincial outing in last week's win over Leinster but makes way for Robert Baloucoune this weekend with the Irish international back in the side after winning his second Test cap with Andy Farrell’s side over the autumn. 

Gilroy following recent inductee Rob Herring into the ‘200 Club’ isn’t the only potential milestone among Ulster’s replacements either. 

Hooker Tom Stewart must have been the only Ulsterman in Dublin who found last week’s win in the RDS a bitter-sweet experience given that he was set for his debut only to remain stuck to the bench for the entire 80 minutes. The former Irish under-20s player – who is a product of Belfast Royal Academy – will hope to see the pitch this time around though after he was named in the number 16 jersey once again.

And Jack McGrath, too, is set for a memorable day. Having not played any rugby in over a year owing to a hip injury that required surgery last spring, he is set for a return via the replacements bench. 

A Test Lion on the drawn tour to New Zealand four years ago, the 32-year-old’s return to action will be a huge boost to Dan McFarland ahead of next week’s return to Europe.

While it would be a stretch to assume the former Leinster man will hit the ground running after such a long lay-off, his experience alone will surely be of great benefit to an Ulster side already missing a host of their most experienced forwards including skipper Iain Henderson and with new signing Duane Vermeulen yet to debut after testing positive for Covid-19. 

In terms of taking on the Ospreys, it is something of a revolving door in terms of the internationals.

James Hume, who was player of the match against Leinster, gets a well earned rest, as does Rob Herring who started last week after coming off the bench for Ireland against New Zealand.

Bradley Roberts, now capped by Wales, is back to replace Herring while tight-head prop Tom O’Toole joins Baloucoune back in a white jersey after exertions with Ireland last month. Nick Timoney and Stuart McCloskey both remain in the starting line-up having not missed a beat last time out on their returns from national duty.

All told, there are seven changes to the starting line-up with Angus Curtis, Eric O’Sullivan, Kieran Treadwell and Sean Reidy also coming into the run-on side. 

Ulster Rugby: Mike Lowry; Robert Baloucoune, Angus Curtis, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, John Cooney; Eric O’Sullivan, Bradley Roberts, Tom O’Toole; Kieran Treadwell, Alan O’Connor (Capt.); Sean Reidy, Nick Timoney, David McCann.

Replacements: Tom Stewart, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Mick Kearney, Marcus Rea, Nathan Doak, Stewart Moore, Craig Gilroy.

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