EUROPEAN RUGBY: Andrew Trimble back to lead Ulster in Bordeaux, but no Charles Piutau for opening game

Andrew Trimble during a training session at Pirrie Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland ahead of Ulster Rugby's Round 1 ERCC clash with Bordeaux in France
Andrew Trimble during a training session at Pirrie Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland ahead of Ulster Rugby's Round 1 ERCC clash with Bordeaux in France
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Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall, Stuart Olding and Ruan Pienaar all return to the Ulster backline for the European Champions Cup opener away to Bordeaux-Bègles this Sunday (16th October, kick-off 2.00pm local time, 1.00pm BST).

Trimble will captain the Ulster side from the right wing, with Craig Gilroy and Jared Payne retaining their places in the back three.

Marshall and Olding will be paired together in midfield, while Pienaar returns at scrum-half to join Paddy Jackson in a formidable half-back partnership.

There are four changes to the pack from last week’s outing against Connacht, with Andy Warwick coming in at loosehead prop to join Rory Best and Rodney Ah You in the front row. The second row partnership of Alan O’Connor and Franco van der Merwe that featured in the back-to-back wins over Glasgow and Scarlets are preferred again, while Sean Reidy comes in to pack down alongside Iain Henderson and Clive Ross in the back row.

With Charles Piutau, Louis Ludik, Darren Cave and Stuart McCloskey all unavailable due to injury, the backline will be supported by Paul Marshall, Jacob Stockdale and Rob Lyttle from the bench. Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Ross Kane, Pete Browne and Roger Wilson will provide the forward cover.

Ulster Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble (captain), Luke Marshall, Stuart Olding, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Andy Warwick, Rory Best, Rodney Ah You, Alan O’Connor, Franco van der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Clive Ross, Sean Reidy;

Replacements (16-23): Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Ross Kane, Pete Browne, Roger Wilson, Paul Marshall, Jacob Stockdale, Rob Lyttle.