Bowe and Jackson return for Ulster

Ireland duo Tommy Bowe and Paddy Jackson return for Ulster’s trip to Blues at the Arms Park tonight.

Bowe and Jackson return for Ulster

That comes on the back of news that scrum-half Ruan Pienaar will be sidelined for up to six weeks with a medial ligament injury, according to official South African sources, which comes as good news as it was originally thought that Pienaar would be out for months rather than weeks.

Lions winger Bowe has not played since last May following groin surgery while Jackson went under the knife for a back problem which forced him to miss Ireland’s summer tour to Argentina.

Interim coach Les Kiss has made five changes from the side that garnered a five-pointer against Zebre last week and now sit in fourth place in the Guinness Pro12.

Impressive South African back Louis Ludik wears the number 15 jersey while Stuart Olding returns to the midfield alongside Darren Cave, who has recovered from a rib injury.

The only change up front sees Springbok lock Franco van der Merwe returning to partner Dan Tuohy in the engine room. Nick Williams, whose right knee was wrapped in ice for most of the week, is named again at number eight, and believes Ulster are as one despite the turmoil at the beginning of the season.

Williams spoke of the sacking of coach Mark Anscombe who gave him his first big break back home in Auckland. He also rescued Williams’ career when he brought him to Belfast from Italy where he was a lonely soul.

“A few of the lads have worked with Les in the Irish set-up but for me personally it was a tough pill to swallow with Cowboy [Anscombe] going.

“But it’s a cut-throat industry and it just goes to show that it’s not just players who come under fire, it’s also the management, with Mark and then Humph going as well.

“A few of the boys have touched on it as it just shows the character and willingness of this team to move forward. We all just back each other 100% for the city and the country whether we’re from here or not.

“I’ve spoken to Mark quite a bit and I probably know him better off the field and he’s a really close mate of mine. He knows the business as well, he’s been around and played the game as well. It is what it is, and it’s all about cracking on and he’s moved on as have we,” explained Williams who was disappointed at last week’s performance against Zebre.

“If we’re honest we were very disappointed at the way we played. The amount of opportunities that we had to get over the line — yes, we did come away with a bonus point — but our first time at home and the amount of changes we had in the team and yet we were very disappointed with ourselves.

“A lot of us have played in Cardiff numerous times now and people say it’s intimidating but for us old fellas who’ve been around for a while we’re going over there quite confident and want to build on what we’ve done so far.”

The Blues meanwhile, make three changes with back-row Josh Navidi, fly-half Gareth Davies and wing Richard Smith brought in following their 33-12 home defeat by Glasgow last week.

ULSTER: L Ludik; A Trimble, D Cave, S Olding, T Bowe; P Jackson, P Marshall; A Warwick, R Best, capt, W Herbst, D Tuohy, F van der Merwe, R Diack, C Henry, N Williams.

Replacements: R Herring, C Black, B Ross, N McComb, R Wilson, M Heaney, I Humphreys, C Gilroy.

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