AN injury picked up by BJ Botha in his surprise appearance for South Africa against Ireland last week has forced Ulster to make a change in the front row for tonight’s Magners League clash with Glasgow Warriors at Ravenhill (8 pm).
Declan Fitzpatrick takes over from Botha to join Tom Court and Andy Kyriacou in the front row. It is not the only area of change, with Timoci Nagusa, Simon Danielli, Darren Cave and Ian Whitten also returning in the backline.
The game is an opportunity for talented youngster David Pollock to shine. He gets his first start of the season after recovering from injury. He takes over from the injured Stephen Ferris in a side captained by Chris Henry.
Tonight’s game, along with four more in the coming weeks, will be crucial according to Ulster coach Brian McLoughlin. “We can waste no time in getting our focus right. This week has to be about getting everyone playing off the same page.
“Glasgow are a strong team, they are level on points with us in the Magners, they had eight players in action for Scotland during the autumn internationals and, of course, Scotland had that magnificent win over Australia. There can be no doubt it is going to be a very tight game.”
He is banking on the Ravenhill crowd to help them get though. “This is our first home game in a month and we are as anxious as they are to get some game time in familiar surroundings,” he added.
Glasgow coach Sean Lineen admitted Ravenhill was a difficult place to play. “Ulster won their last three home games and did the double over us last season. Hopefully, we will be better prepared, it will be a bit like our first game of the season against Munster in that we know what to expect. It’s going to be a huge physical challenge.
“It’s vital we lay down a marker which sets the tone for the coming weeks,” he said.
Scotland flanker John Barclay is one of seven Warriors who played in the autumn Tests to be named in Lineen’s side and, despite only being 23, is one of Glasgow’s senior players having been at the club for six years. Barclay is named captain as Alastair Kellock is rested alongside No 8 Johnnie Beattie following their involvement in all three internationals.
Chris Cusiter starts on the bench following three intense weeks with the Scotland squad, making way for Mark McMillan who will start at scrum-half. McMillan’s half-back partner, Dan Parks, continues to hone in on his 1,000th Magners League point, sitting just 25 points off the landmark total.
In total, Lineen has made five changes, one positional, to the team that drew 9-9 with the Ospreys at Liberty Stadium in their last game five weeks ago.
ULSTER:C Schifcofske, T Nagusa, D Cave, I Whitten, S Danielli, I Humphreys, I Boss, T Court, A Kyriacou, D Fitzpatrick, D Tuohy, R Caldwell, D Pollock, W Faloon, C Henry (capt).
Replacements:N Brady, B Young, E O’Donoghue, T Anderson, P Marshall, N O’Connor, J Shiels
GLASGOW: B. Stortoni, A. Dunbar, M. Evans, G. Morrison, T. Evans, D. Parks, M. McMillan, J. Welsh, D. Hall, M. Low, T.Barker R. Gray, K. Brown, R. Vernon, J. Barclay (captain)
Replacements: F Thomson, K Tkachuk. D Turner, C Forrester, C Cusiter, C Gregor, P Murchie.
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