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Ulster v Clermont: Kiss confident after having to make just one change for big showdown

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster's Les Kiss is hoping the same men who delivered victory against Clermont last week can repeat the trick when the two sides meet again in the Auvergne tomorrow afternoon (3.05pm kick-off).

The province's 39-32 win in last weekend's round three tie means they travel to the Stade Marcel-Michelin just three points behind tomorrow's opposition at the top of pool five.

Director of Rugby Les Kiss has been forced into only one change after confirming that Robbie Diack will be out for between two and four weeks but has retained the remainder of his 23-man panel.

And while a fifth win in France in as many seasons will be a tough ask, Kiss believes the rare chance to field a settled side will be of benefit.

"The bottom line is what we delivered last week we should expect every time we go out and play," he said.

"We know where we were poor at times and late in the game we gave them opportunities to get back in the game so we've focused on a few areas to improve.

"It's going to be tough, it's going to be a fantastic atmosphere and we should relish it and embrace it and play like we can.

"It's an imposing record they have (at home). To go there and try to play within yourself, or safe, possibly isn't the right way to play, although you still have to play to the conditions and whatever's thrown at you.

"Hopefully if everything goes to plan we can express ourselves, I'm sure they will, and we'll have a fantastic game again.

"Their supporters last week were brilliant, we have a lot of supporters going over who will be brilliant so I'm sure it'll be a fantastic Sunday in the Michelin," he added.

Diack's injury means Franco van der Merwe returns to the second-row where he will partner Pete Browne.

Kieran Treadwell, who played 40 minutes off the bench last week when Diack went off, remains among the replacements.

"We've kept the same team bar that (one change)," he said.

"Robbie had a blow to the ribcage and he's got a bit of abdominal trauma so he's probably out for two to four weeks.

"After the rest Franco had last week it's a good fit for him to come back in. I thought Pete did well again in lock and I also thought Kieran Treadwell did a superb effort coming off the bench at half-time on short notice, he wasn't expecting to come on at that time but he did a really great job for us.

"There are other people putting their hands up in every session. During the year we've had to make a lot of changes so this is an opportunity to keep it as stable as possible and it'll be nice to have a situation where the combinations can work one further week together."

Andrew Trimble's ligament problem keeps the winger out and means Ireland skipper Rory Best will again stand in as captain.

Stuart Olding and Roger Wilson, who are also nearing a return, will instead target Friday's clash with Connacht.

Belfast Telegraph


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