EUROPEAN RUGBY: Tommy Bowe returns to Ulser senior side for final European fling with Bordeaux in Belfast

Tommy Bowe carries on the water duing  Exeter Chiefs v Ulster
Tommy Bowe carries on the water duing Exeter Chiefs v Ulster
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British Lion winger, Tommy Bowe, is back in the Ulster senior side for Saturday’s European Champions Cup tie against Bordeaux at Kingspan Stadium (1pm).

Bowe was a surprise omission last week for the defeat in Exeter, and was one of the water carriers.

Jonny Simpson first professional home start for Ulster against Bordeaux

Jonny Simpson first professional home start for Ulster against Bordeaux

However, the Irish interational returns to the starting line-up as one of six changes made by director of rugby, Les Kiss, for what is effectively a dead rubber pool match.

Ulster currently lie bottom of Pool Five a point behind the French visitors with little more than pride at stake and wanting to avoid finishing bottom of the group.

Four of the changes come in the tight five as the front row injury crisis continues, with Hughes Insurance Academy props Ross Kane and Tommy O’Hagan adding their names to the lengthy injury list.

Jonny Simpson will make his first start for the Province at tighthead prop, having earned three previous caps as a replacement. Andy Warwick will join Simpson in the front row and they will pack down alongside Ireland skipper Rory Best.

Darren Cave will start in the centre for Ulster against Bordeaux

Darren Cave will start in the centre for Ulster against Bordeaux

Elsewhere in the pack, Robbie Diack and Franco van der Merwe will start together in the second row for the first time, while the loose forward trio of Iain Henderson, Chris Henry and Sean Reidy is retained.

Darren Cave, who impressed while leading Ulster ‘A’ to a 38-21 win over London Scottish last week to keep that side’s hopes of qualification to the knockout stages in the British and Irish Cup alive, gets a deserved call to the senior side.

Dave Shanahan and Paddy Jackson are named as half back partners for the second consecutive week. Darren Cave, hugely impressive in Ulster A’s 38-21 win over London Scottish last Friday night, is installed in the Ulster midfield alongside Stuart McCloskey.

With Bowe on the right wing, Andrew Trimble selected on the left flank and captains the side and Charles Piutau reverts to fullback.

Ricky Lutton is set to make his first appearance of the season after recovering from a series of injuries. He will provide forward cover along with John Andrew, Callum Black, Kieran Treadwell and Clive Ross. Paul Marshall, Brett Herron and Craig Gilroy are also included in the match day 23 for Saturday’s game.

With only three defeats in their last 25 European outings in Belfast, Ulster will be hoping to continue its proud home record and kick-start their season ahead of a crucial block of Guinness PRO12 games.

SATURDAY’S LINE-UPS:

Ulster Rugby: Charles Piutau; Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Andrew Trimble (c); Paddy Jackson, David Shanahan; Andy Warwick, Rory Best, Jonny Simpson, Robbie Diack, Franco Van Der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Sean Reidy

Replacements: John Andrew, Callum Black, Ricky Lutton, Kieran Treadwell, Clive Ross, Paul Marshall, Brett Herron, Craig Gilroy

Bordeaux-Bègles: Geoffrey Cros; Nans Ducuing, Jean-Baptiste Dubié, Joe Wakacegu, Blair Connor; Ian Madigan, Yann Lesgourgues; Steven Kitshoff, Clement Maynadier (c), Marc Clerc, Tom Palmer, Berend Botha, Louis Madaule, Loann Goujon, Marco Tauleigne

Replacements: Benat Auzqui, Sébastien Taofifenua, Vadim Cobilas, Joe Edwards, Hugh Chalmers, Julien Audy, Simon Hickey, Julien Rey