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Robert Baloucoune set for first start of the season as Ulster make six squad changes for Scarlets PRO14 clash



Robert Baloucoune is back for Ulster.

Robert Baloucoune is back for Ulster.

©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Robert Baloucoune is back for Ulster.

Robert Baloucoune is set for his first start of the season when Scarlets visit Kingspan Stadium on Friday evening (kick-off 7.35pm).

The winger has played only nine minutes for the province this season with a knee injury spoiling his start to the campaign.

After coming off the bench in the narrow defeat to Munster earlier this month, he has been named as one of six changes to the Ulster side for this weekend's return to PRO14 action.

Will Addison, of course, misses out after his four-week suspension for what was deemed a dangerous tackle in last week's Euro win over Clermont.

That means Louis Ludik is shifted to full-back for what will be his 100th Ulster appearance, with Craig Gilroy also coming in on the wing as Jacob Stockdale drops out.

The other two additions to the back line are Matt Faddes (centre) and fly-half Bill Johnston, with Luke Marshall and Billy Burns making way. Faddes joins Stuart McCloskey in midfield and Johnston partners John Cooney at half-back.

In the pack, Ireland duo Iain Henderson and Jordi Murphy are out, replaced by Kieran Treadwell and Matthew Rea.

Louis Ludik will earn his 100th Ulster cap on Friday evening, as he is named to start against Scarlets in Round 7 of the Guinness PRO14 Championship (Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm.)

The front row remains unchanged; Eric O’Sullivan will play loosehead prop, Rob Herring starts at hooker and will captain the side, and Marty Moore will start at tighthead prop. Treadwell starts alongside Alan O’Connor in the second row and Rea returns at blindside flanker while the versatile Sean Reidy moves to openside, and Marcell Coetzee remains at number eight.

Summer signing David O’Connor, brother of Alan, is set to earn his maiden Ulster cap if called upon from the bench.

Adam McBurney, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole and Nick Timoney will provide the forward options from the bench along with O’Connor. David Shanahan - who is set to hit the 50 cap milestone - Angus Curtis and Angus Kernohan will cover the back line.

Scarlets, meanwhile, have Wales trio Steff Evans, Samson Lee and Ryan Elias all in the starting side after they were released from the international squad ahead of Saturday's game against the Rory Best-captained Barbarians.

They also hand a debut to Tonga's World Cup lock Sam Lousi after his summer arrival from Super Rugby's Hurricanes as coach Brad Mooar names eight changes from the side that were beaten in France last weekend.

Ulster, of course, return to league action having made a bright start to their European campaign, with Champions Cup victories over Bath and Clermont.

Back in the PRO14, the province go into Friday's game second in Pool A, already nine points behind Leinster but three ahead of Cheetahs and five clear of Glasgow Warriors.

Scarlets are second in Pool B, having won five of their six league games so far this term. They continued that form by beating London Irish in their opening European tie but were edged 17-16 in Toulon.

Ulster team to play Scarlets

(15-9): Louis Ludik, Robert Baloucoune, Matt Faddes, Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy, Bill Johnston, John Cooney.

(1-8): Eric O'Sullivan, Rob Herring (Capt.), Marty Moore, Alan O'Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements: Adam McBurney, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, Nick Timoney, David Shanahan, Angus Curtis, Angus Kernohan.

Scarlets team to play Ulster

(15-9): Steff Evans, Corey Baldwin, Steff Hughes, Paul Asquith, Morgan Williams, Dan Jones, Kieran Hardy.

(1-8): Phil Price, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Lewis Rawlins, Sam Lousi, Uzair Cassiem, Josh MacLeod, Blade Thomson.

Replacements: Marc Jones, Dylan Evans, Werner Kruger, Steve Cummins, Jac Morgan, Jonathan Evans, Ryan Lamb, Ryan Conbeer.

Belfast Telegraph