New Zealander Charles Piutau is anxious to get back into Ulster action for the visit of the winless Scarlets to the Kingspan Stadium this evening (7.05 pm),
Piutau missed last week’s win against Treviso in Italy.
“It was frustrating. I was like a fan screaming for the team last weekend,” said the 24-year-old Aucklander who has 16 All Blacks caps and is used to high expectations.
“The pressure doesn’t affect me. As a rugby player, I just try to do my role to the best of my ability. I’m just trying to enjoy it and have fun. You try to shut out the noise and zone in on what you’re doing on the field. It could be a positive if people target me, sometimes they put an extra man on you or try tactics to take you out of the game. You have to try different things to make sure you stay involved.”
Rob Herring will hit a century of appearances for Ulster as Les Kiss has named a strong line-up. Herring captains a side that boasts a potent back-line with full-back Charles Piutau and wing Craig Gilroy back from injury while Paddy Jackson gets his first start of the season alongside Ruan Pienaar at half-back. Stuart Olding and Stuart McCloskey offer a very strong midfield. Coach Les Kiss makes eight changes from the side that defeated Treviso last week, with Callum Black, Pete Browne, Alan O’Connor, Rodney Ah You and Robbie Diack in the pack. Iain Henderson is also ready to flex his muscles off the bench.
Meanwhile, Scarlets have made a number of changes with Hadleigh Parkes partnering Jonathan Davies in midfield while Liam Williams moves to the wing with Aled Thomas in at fullback. The front five is the same but Lewis Rawlins joins James Davies and John Barclay in the back row.
C Piutau; C Gilroy, S Olding, S McCloskey, L Ludik; P Jackson, R Pienaar; C Black, R Herring (captain), R Ah You, P Browne, A O’Connor, C Ross, S Reidy, R Diack. Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, R Kane, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, A Lloyd, L Marshall, R Lyttle.
A Thomas; L Williams, J Davies, H Parkes, S Evans, R Patchell, G Davies; W Jones, K Owens, capt, W Kruger, J Ball, D Bulbring, L Rawlins, J Davies, J Barclay. Replacements: R Elias, L Garrett, P Edwards, T Beirne, W Boyde, A Davies, S Williams, S Hughes.
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