Will Addison set for injury return as Ulster make five changes to face Cardiff Blues
Will Addison will make his first appearance this season when the Ulster men host Cardiff Blues on Friday evening.
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Addison is named at fullback and is one of five changes to the starting team who recorded a bonus point win over the Isuzu Southern Kings last time out.
Also in are centre James Hume, front rows Jack McGrath and John Andrew as well as Kieran Treadwell as Matt Faddes, Eric O'Sullivan and Sam Carter drop to the bench. There is no place in the squad for Rob Herring after his brief stint at the World Cup, and, crucially, last year's player of the season Stuart McCloskey, who limped off after 45 minutes in Port Elizabeth.
McCloskey was making his first competitive appearance of the season, having been flown out to join the squad in South Africa after Hume's facial injury.
The 27-year-old was not included in Ulster's midweek injury update but does not feature in the team-sheet for Friday evening's clash at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 7.35pm).
Addison , who has not played since January, will be joined in the back three by Louis Ludik and Craig Gilroy - Ulster’s current most-capped player who will make his 172nd appearance. James Hume returns to partner Luke Marshall in midfield.
John Cooney starts at scrumhalf and will be one step closer to his 50th cap milestone, making his 49thappearance. He will play alongside Billy Burns at flyhalf, who will captain Ulster for the first time in a competitive game.
There are three changes in the pack; McGrath returns to start at loosehead, along with Andrew at hooker and Tom O’Toole anchoring the tighthead position. Treadwell comes in to join the PRO14’s top tackler in Round 3, Alan O’Connor, in the second row.
The back row remains unchanged with Matthew Rea at blindside flanker, Sean Reidy at openside, and Marcell Coetzee at number 8.
Nick Timoney has completed his recovery from a hand injury sustained in pre-season and is available off the bench, along with fellow forwards Adam McBurney, O’Sullivan, Ross Kane and Carter. David Shanahan, Bill Johnston and Faddes make up the backline replacements.
Ulster team to play Cardiff Blues
(15-9) Will Addison, Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall, James Hume, Louis Ludik, Billy Burns (C), John Cooney;
(1-8) Jack McGrath, John Andrew, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee.
Replacements (16-23) Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Ross Kane, Sam Carter, Nick Timoney, David Shanahan, Bill Johnston, Matt Faddes.
Belfast Telegraph Digital