Some big names absent from Ulster side for crucial Champions Cup clash

Some big names absent from Ulster side for crucial Champions Cup clash
Darren Cave returns at outside centre.

Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss has named his starting XV for tomorrow’s crucial Champions Cup game against Oyonnax and there are several big names missing from the list.

Newly-crowned Ireland captain Rory Best is a notable absence as are Ruan Pienaar and highly-rated young centre Stuart McCloskey.

Best has been struggling with what Ulster describe as “minor back tightness” and Pienaar is unavailable due to illness, while McCloskey is being rested.

The back three consists of Jared Payne at full back with Andrew Trimble and Craig Gilroy on the wings.

Paul Marshall is joined at half back by Paddy Jackson, while Darren Cave returns from a shoulder injury to make his first start since December alongside Luke Marshall in midfield.

Captain Rob Herring and Ricky Lutton are joined in the front row by Kyle McCall, with Alan O'Connor and Franco van der Merwe continuing in second row. Robbie Diack and Sean Reidy will again pack down either side of Williams at number eight.

"It's great to have Darren (Cave) and Nick (Williams) back in the team,” said Kiss. “We welcomed Jared (Payne) back last week and that was pleasing for us too.

“With Rory (Best) on the bench it's another opportunity for Rob (Herring) to show what a great player and what a great leader he is. Ruan (Pienaar) has been struggling with illness all week so he is unavailable, but we know that Paul (Marshall) will come in and do a fantastic job for us."

Ulster v Oyonnax, European Rugby Champions Cup, at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday January 23 at 1.00pm.

Ulster team: J Payne, A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, P Marshall; K McCall, R Herring - capt., R Lutton; A O'Connor, F van der Merwe; R Diack, S Reidy, N Williams.

Replacements: R Best, C Black, B Ross, C Ross, R Wilson, D Shanahan, I Humphreys, R Scholes.

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