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Ulster team news: Rob Herring returns but Stuart McCloskey still missing for visit of Zebre

Ulster's Rob Herring will lead the side on Friday evening.
Ulster's Rob Herring will lead the side on Friday evening.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Rob Herring is back from Ireland duty to captain Ulster against Zebre on Friday evening but there is still no place in the side for Stuart McCloskey.

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In all, Dan McFarland has made six changes to the side that beat Cardiff Blues last weekend.

McCloskey's shoulder problem was the subject of ongoing assessment this week, with forwards coach Roddy Grant saying on Monday that the province had been hoping he would be fit to take to the pitch at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 7.35pm).

Herring is joined in the pack by Nick Timoney while Matt Faddes comes in to the back-line along with Rob Lyttle, who returns from a back injury for his third start of the season. It's all change in the half-pack pairing as Bill Johnston and Dave Shanahan are partnered for the first time, with John Cooney dropping to the bench for what is set to be his 50th Ulster appearance and Billy Burns not in the panel.

With this game followed by a trip to Munster and then the opening European double-header, Ulster were always expected to ring some changes.

There is still no place in the squad, though, for injured duo Marty Moore and Robert Baloucoune, with news on their progress not forthcoming, nor for Jordi Murphy and the rest of Ulster's World Cup contingent.

Herring is joined in the front row by Jack McGrath and Tom O'Toole while Alan O'Connor and Kieran Treadwell hold their places at lock. Timoney starts at openside flanker, with Matty Rea and the influential Marcell Coetzee completing the back row.

In the back line, Will Addison retains his place at full-back with Louis Ludik again on the wing and Luke Marshall partnering Faddes in midfield.

In the replacements, Adam McBurney, Kyle McCall, Ross Kane, Sam Carter and Sean Reidy provide forward cover. Angus Curtis and Craig Gilroy join Cooney as the back line reinforcements.

Ulster team to play Zebre Rugby Club

(15-9): Will Addison, Louis Ludik, Matt Faddes, Luke Marshall, Rob Lyttle, Bill Johnston, David Shanahan.

(1-8): Jack McGrath, Rob Herring (Capt.), Tom O'Toole, Alan O'Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, Nick Timoney, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements: Adam McBurney, Kyle McCall, Ross Kane, Sam Carter, Sean Reidy, John Cooney, Angus Curtis, Craig Gilroy.

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