Paddy Jackson chalks up century for Ulster in crunch with Glasgow

Ireland’s Paddy Jackson will chalk up a century of appearances for Ulster in tonight’s Guinness Pro12 clash with champions Glasgow, (Scotstoun Stadium, 7.45pm, TG4).

Paddy Jackson chalks up century for Ulster in crunch with Glasgow

His national colleague Iain Henderson will get his first taste of action since tearing a hamstring in December, while lock Alan O’Connor has also recovered from injury and is one of five changes from the side that defeated Zebre three weeks ago. Up front Callum Black replaces Kyle McCall while O’Connor partners Franco van der Merwe at lock and Henderson is in a back-row alongside Nick Williams and Chris Henry.

Stuart Olding is moved from centre to full-back to cater for the return of Ireland’s Six Nations debutant Stuart McCloskey to partner Luke Marshall in midfield. Craig Gilroy occupies one wing with Rory Scholes on the left.

Jackson, who will again partner Ruan Pienaar, is second quickest to the 100 cap mark after his Methodist College colleague Craig Gilroy.

Ireland skipper Rory Best along with Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne are rested in preparation for next week’s derby battle with table-toppers Connacht. Leading the side again is hooker Rob Herring who knows that victory on the road tonight could set them up for a play-off slot.

“There could be an eight-point swing in fortunes. Everyone is so close so if you lose one game then you start to look like you’re out of the running so if we can go away and win this game it will put us in a good position to potentially even push on for a top two spot,” said Herring.

Meanwhile Glasgow coach Gregor Townsend has all their 18 internationals back in their match-day squad.

Stuart Hogg will start at full-back while Finn Russell has recovered from concussion to start, with club captain Jonny Gray also fit to make his 50th appearance for the Warriors. Former Ulster player, Tommy Seymour, and Sean Lamont start on either wing, with a centre pairing of Mark Bennett and Alex Dunbar.

Henry Pyrgos will operate at scrum-half, prop Gordon Reid will pack down with Fraser Brown and Sila Puafisi, while Gray makes his first appearance since the win over Racing 92 in January, pairing up with Leone Nakarawa in the engine room.

GLASGOW: S Hogg, T Seymour, M Bennett, A Dunbar, S Lamont, F Russell, H Pyrgos; G Reid, F Brown, S Puafisi, J Gray (capt), L Nakarawa, R Harley, C Fusaro, J Strauss.

Replacements: J Malcolm, J Yanuyanutawa, Z Fagerson, T Swinson, R Wilson, G Hart, D Weir, T Naiyaravoro.

ULSTER: S Olding, C Gilroy, L Marshall, S McCloskey, R Scholes, P Jackson, R Pienaar; C Black, R Herring (C), R Lutton, A O’Connor, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, C Henry, N Williams.

Replacements: J Andrew, K McCall, A Warwick, R Diack, S Reidy, P Marshall, S Windsor, D Cave.

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