Spence set for first Ulster start in Glasgow clash

TEENAGER Nevin Spence makes his first Ulster senior start this evening when the Magners League strugglers face playoff-chasing Glasgow Warriors at Firhill.

The blonde Ballynahinch flyer, who turns 20 next week, gets his chance due to the injury to Paddy Wallace (ankle) while fellow Academy player Jamie Smith has just returned from injury and is named on the bench.

Scotland’s Simon Danielli again wears the number 15 jersey, allowing Spence to slot into the left wing berth, with Ian Whitten starting in midfield. Spence, who was part of Ireland’s U-20 Six Nations-winning side, came on briefly at the end of Ulster’s 38-27 reverse at the hands of the Ospreys on Tuesday night.

Up front, there is a completely new front-row with Andy Kyriacou taking over the hooking duties from Rory Best, who has calf and ankle injuries, while BJ Botha gets a rare rest on the bench, Declan Fitzpatrick taking over at tight-head and fit-again Tom Court at loose. Ryan Caldwell partners Ed O’Donoghue at lock.

There are still some doubts over Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris, who has an ankle injury, with Thomas Anderson joining the squad for their disrupted travel plans to Glasgow.

Ulster have been caught up in the chaos caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland which has seen all air traffic grounded due to an ash cloud. After a very brief captain’s run at Ravenhill yesterday, Ulster urgently switched their travel plans from air to sea and arrived at their Glasgow HQ late last night.

“It was not ideal preparation for a game that we must get something out of,” said coach Brian McLaughlin. “Yes, there were plenty of positives to take from Tuesday defeat. Our two tries came from turnovers in defence, but on the other hand, individual errors in defence also cost us.

“Glasgow are another quality side and we’re expecting a very tough game.

“It’s been a quick turnaround for us, physically we’re in good shape so now we just have to get the boys mentally right for this very important game.

“We don’t want to have to wait until the final game of the Magners League to decide what happens next season,” he added.

Glasgow, meanwhile, have flanker John Barclay back, while Mark McMillan continues at scrum-half, with captain Chris Cusiter to make it to the bench following a calf injury.

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