Humphreys gets the nod for Euro opener

Ian Humphreys will make his first competitive start of the season for Ulster in their Heineken Cup match with Aironi on Friday night at Ravenhill (kick off: 7:30pm).

Ian Humphreys will make his first competitive start of the season for Ulster in their Heineken Cup match with Aironi on Friday night at Ravenhill (kick off: 7:30pm).

Humphreys, who comes in for the unlucky Niall O’Connor, will start alongside Springbok marquee signing Ruan Pienarr at half-back.

Jamie Smith has won the battle for the full-back spot despite the efforts of recent Australian rugby league recruit Adam D’Arcy.

Darren Cave links up with Paddy Wallace in the centre and will be flanked by the first choice wing combination of Simon Danielli and Andrew Trimble.

Tim Barker packs down with Johann Muller in the secondrow with Dan Tuohy in reserve, while Irish international lock Ryan Caldwell drops out of the squad completely.

South African tight-head BJ Botha, who sustained a wrist injury against Connacht in Round four of the Magners League, was named in the extended squad but suffered a set-back earlier in the week and has consequently not been included. Therefore, Irish prop Tom Court continues in the number three jersey for the Ulsterman.

In the absence of Stephen Ferris: Pedrie Wannenberg Chris Henry and Robbie Diack form a powerful looking backrow.

This will be the first experience of the Heineken Cup for Ulster's new South African contingent of Muller, Pienaar and Wannenburg and they're looking forward to the experience;

"I've followed it (the Heineken Cup) for the past five or six years from South Africa," said Muller.

"It's a wonderful tournament with a great history and tradition attached to it. I know it's going to be a different intensity to what we have seen so far but I'm ready for that".

ULSTER: Jamie Smith; Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Paddy Wallace, Simon Danielli; Ian Humphreys, Ruan Pienaar ;Bryan Young, Rory Best (Captain), Tom Court, Johann Muller, Tim Barker, Pedrie Wannenburg, Chris Henry, Robbie Diack

Replacements: Nigel Brady, Paddy McAllister, Alan Whitten, Dan Tuohy, Willie Faloon, Paul Marshall, Ian Whitten, David McIlwaine

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