Ulster v Racing 92 team news: Ulster stars return as 13 changes make a strong side for vital European tie
Jacob Stockdale and Marcell Coetzee have both been passed fit to start for Ulster in this weekend's crunch Heineken Champions Cup clash with Racing 92.
Coetzee missed the defeat at the hands of Leinster last time out - just his second absence of the season - after undergoing return to play protocols. Stockdale is back after sitting out the past three games with a hamstring issue.
Captain Rory Best returns along with fellow internationals Will Addison, Stuart McCloskey, Jordi Murphy and John Cooney.
Listen to this week's Ulster Rugby Round Up podcast as we look ahead to the big game:
- Ulster Rugby Round Up podcast S2E21: Wiehahn Herbst rumours, signing speculation and Racing to European knock-outs
Alan O'Connor and Sean Reidy are the only surviving starters from last weekend's PRO14 defeat in Leinster as winger Robert Baloucoune will make his European debut in Saturday's fixture at Kingspan Stadium (kick off 3.15pm).
Read the permutations for Ulster's European progression:
Michael Lowry has come through return-to-play protocols to take his place on the bench.
Stockdale, who will earn his 50th Ulster cap, is joined in the back three by Baloucoune and Louis Ludik. Stockdale is competition’s joint-top try-scorer (four) and is the only player to have scored in every round so far.
McCloskey and Addison are re-united in midfield, with Cooney and Billy Burns named at scrumhalf and flyhalf respectively. Burns currently leads the way for assists in the Champions Cup (four).
Best returns to captain the side from hooker and will pack down beside Marty Moore and Academy prop Eric O’Sullivan.
O’Connor partners Kieran Treadwell in the second row while Reidy will line out alongside Murphy and Coetzee in the back row.
Rob Herring, Andy Warwick, Ross Kane, Ian Nagle and Nick Timoney are the forward replacements, while Dave Shanahan, Lowry and Darren Cave are the backline reinforcements.
For Racing 92, former Ireland international Simon Zebo starts on the wing.
Ulster’s 1999 European Cup winning squad will be in attendance on Saturday and will be introduced to the crowd on the pitch just before 3pm.
Ulster team to play Racing 92
(15-9): Louis Ludik; Robert Baloucoune, Will Addison, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Billy Burns, John Cooney;
(1-8): Eric O’Sullivan, Rory Best (captain), Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee;
Replacements (16-23): Robb Herring, Andy Warwick, Ross Kane, Ian Nagle, Nick Timoney, Dave Shanahan, Michael Lowry, Darren Cave.
Racing 92 team to play Ulster
(15-9): Brice Dulin; Simon Zebo, Virimi Vakatawa, Henry Chavancy, Juan Imhoff; Finn Russell, Maxime Machenaud;
(1-8): Guram Gogichashvili, Dimitri Szarzewski, Ben Tameifuna, Bernard Le Roux, Leone Nakarawa, Wenceslas Lauret, Baptiste Chouzenoux, Antonie Claassen;
Replacements (16-23): Teddy Baubigny, Vasil Kakovin, Georges-Henri Colmbe-Reazel, Boris Palu, Fabien Sanconnie, Teddy Iribaren, Olivier Klemenczak, Ben Volavola.
Belfast Telegraph Digital