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Ulster team news: Marcell Coetzee and Stuart McCloskey both return to face Southern Kings

Marcell Coetzee's quick return is a timely boost for Ulster.
Marcell Coetzee's quick return is a timely boost for Ulster.

Marcell Coetzee and Stuart McCloskey will make their first starts of the season for Ulster this weekend.

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South African Coetzee has made a quick return from an ankle injury sustained in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup. He had initially been expected to be out until mid-November but he will start for Ulster against Southern Kings on Saturday.

McCloskey hadn't been included in the province's initial panel for the South Africa mini-tour but has been drafted in and will partner Luke Marshall in midfield.

The duo are two of the five changes that Head Coach, Dan McFarland has made to the starting XV who were crushed 63-26 by the Toyota Cheetahs last week.

Alan O’Connor is the only other alteration to the pack as Greg Jones and Kieran Treadwell make way.

There is still no place for Jack McGrath, who was a late withdrawal from the squad to face the Cheetahs. Rob Herring retains the captaincy and will be joined in the front row by Eric O’Sullivan and Tom O’Toole.

O’Connor is joined in the second row by Sam Carter, with Matthew Rea and Sean Reidy completing the back row positions with Coetzee.

In the back line, McCloskey takes the place of James Hume, who suffered a facial injury last weekend, while Louis Ludik comes in to replace Rob Lyttle. Billy Burns returns at fly-half to take the place of Bill Johnston.

Matt Faddes will start again at full back, Craig Gilroy at 14 and John Cooney is retained at scrum half.

Angus Curtis could make his first appearance since October 2018 if called upon from the bench. David Shanahan and James Hume are the additional backline options, with Adam McBurney, Kyle McCall, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell and Greg Jones selected as the forward reinforcements.

Ulster team to play Isuzu Southern Kings

(15-9) Matt Faddes, Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Louis Ludik, Billy Burns, John Cooney;

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring (Capt.), Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter, Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements: Adam McBurney, Kyle McCall, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell, Greg Jones, Dave Shanahan, Angus Curtis, James Hume.

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