Frontliners are back on Ulster Rugby duty

Ulster captain, Johann Muller returns from injury
Ulster captain, Johann Muller returns from injury

Ulster coach Mark Anscombe made nine changes for the top-of-the-table RaboDirect PRO12 clash against Scarlets on Sunday (4.00pm, Parc y Scarlets).

Captain Johann Muller has returned from a thumb injury to captain the side in one of five changes to the pack, while Rory Best is fit enough to be named on the bench after overcoming neck problems.

After their exertions in recent weeks, Anscombe has decided to rest back row players Nick Williams and Chris Henry, in addition to backline stars Ruan Pienaar, Paddy Wallace and Jared Payne. Stephen Ferris, Lewis Stevenson and Declan Fitzpatrick are all sidelined through injury.

Callum Black and John Afoa are promoted to the starting team and are in the front row alongside South African born hooker Rob Herring. Neil McComb retains his place in the second row beside his skipper, with loose forwards Iain Henderson and Robbie Diack coming in for Nick Williams and Mike McComish. Roger Wilson will again start at number 8.

Ireland squad members Paddy Jackson, Luke Marshall, Darren Cave and Craig Gilroy all come straight back into the backline after impressing during the November Series. Jackson will partner Paul Marshall at half back, while Cave and Luke Marshall will combine in midfield. Peter Nelson will get another run at fullback, with Gilroy and Andrew Trimble lining out on the wings.

A strong bench has been named, including current Ireland internationals Best, Tom Court, Dan Tuohy and Tommy Bowe. Development prop Ricky Lutton could win his second cap if he appears as a replacement on Sunday, while Mike McComish, Michael Heaney and Niall O’Connor will provide further cover.

Ulster XV & replacements to face Scarlets, RaboDirect PRO12, Sunday 2nd December, Parc y Scarlets (4.00pm):

(15-9): P Nelson; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, P Marshall; (1-8): C Black, R Herring, J Afoa, J Muller (c), N McComb, I Henderson, R Diack, R Wilson.

Replacements (16-23): R Best, T Court, R Lutton, D Tuohy, M McComish, M Heaney, N O’Connor, T Bowe.