Humphreys the main man for resurgent Ulster

VETERAN fly-half David Humphreys makes his first Ulster start of the season with Ireland’s under-used World Cup stand-in Paddy Wallace reverting to the bench for the Magners League trip to Glasgow tonight (Firhill Arena, 7.30pm).

Coach Mark McCall makes just two changes from the side that drew 16-16 with Leinster last week with Wallaby Justin Harrison returning at lock in place of Italian Carlos del Fava.

However, it comes as no surprise that the 36-year-old Humphreys is back as the main man in an Ulster jersey after his 35-minute cameo last Friday at Ravenhill where he turned the game.

However, the improvement shown in that tie must continue at Firhill, according to skipper Rory Best whose side has lost three of their away games in the competition.

Said Best: “We are going into the game in better shape. Our defensive shape was a lot better after the break when we were a lot more confrontational at the breakdown. That has given us a lot more confidence. When we get the ball we know the belief is there.

“Glasgow have not lost at Firhill for nearly 14 months, and they turned us over at Ravenhill at the tail end of last season. They have also benefited more than Edinburgh from the Borders disbanding, plus they have bought very wisely — like Darryl Gibson.

“We have to get a performance and a good result behind us before facing Gloucester the following week in the Heineken Cup.

“You need players fighting for a starting place; it gives everyone an edge as they fight tooth and nail for that spot,” said Best who still gets plenty of advice from his brother, Simon, whose career is in a state of flux following his health problems during the World Cup.

“It’s a bit strange not having Simon in the front row with me,” said Best. “It’s been good see him around lately. It’s great that he’s around the squad talking to everyone. There are things that I will have to deal with that he has encountered when he was captain over the past couple of seasons. He’s always wanting to give advice and there are bit pieces which will stick.”

Meanwhile, Glasgow have Samoan international prop, Justin Va’a, back in action while Johnnie Beattie reclaims the number eight jersey with Kelly Brown moving to blindside flanker.

GLASGOW: B Stortoni, L Fa’atau, A Henderson, D Gibson, T Evans, D Parks, C O’Young, J Va’a, F Thomson, M Low, A Newman, A Kellock (capt), K Brown, J Barclay, J Beattie.

Replacements: E Milligan, E Kalman, D Turner, J Eddie, S Pinder, E Barrow, H O’Hare.

ULSTER: B Cunningham; T Bowe, A Trimble, R Dewey, M McCrea; D Humphreys, I Boss; J Fitzpatrick, R Best, B Young; J Harrison, R Caldwell; N Best, K Dawson, S Ferris.

Replacements: S Philpott, D Fitzpatrick, C del Fava, R Wilson, K Campbell, P Wallace, M Bartholomeusz.

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