Zebre v Ulster
Ireland fly-half Paddy Jackson returns to direct operations for Ulster when they travel to Italian side Zebre this afternoon looking to move up the RaboDirect Pro12 standings(2pm kick-off).
Jackson is one of six changes from the side that thrashed Edinburgh last week while Craig Gilroy is a positional switch when he moves to left wing from full-back allowing Ricky Andrew to wear 15.
All told Ulster have nine Ireland internationals on parade now that Tom Court has returned to tight-head with All Black John Afoa starting at tight-head. With Ulster’s current second-row dearth exacerbated with Lewis Stevenson (knee) and Iain Henderson (hamstring) picking up injuries last week, Belfast Harlequins’ Neil McComb partners Dan Tuohy in the engine room.
Coach Mark Anscombe resisted the temptation to move stand-in skipper Robbie Diack forward and instead keeps him in the back-row alongside openside Michael McComish and number 8 Roger Wilson, who has been in fine form this season.
Despite the injuries in the squad, Wilson is confident the players involved have the know-how to do the business.
“There were a few more people in the medical room on Monday when we came back in for training,” said Wilson. “But that’s rugby as we had a similar situation last year at a different stage of the season. It is just the way it seems to happen.”
ULSTER: R Andrew; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy, P Jackson, P Marshall; T Court, R Herring, J Afoa, N McComb, D Tuohy, R Diack, capt, M McComish, R Wilson. Replacements: N Annett, C Black, D Fitzpatrick, C Joyce, S Doyle, M Heaney, J McKinney, M Allen.
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