Ulster’s new faces set for game time against Exeter

Ricky Andrew during pre-season training in Belfast
Ricky Andrew during pre-season training in Belfast

It really will be a case of fresh faces at the Kingspan Stadium on Friday night (7.30pm) when Ulster begin the build-up to the start of the new season with a friendly against Exeter Chiefs.

A plethora of new summer signings and several Hughes Insurance Ulster Academy players will give the Irish Province a fresh look.

In total 34 players have been selected in the extended panel which will allow the Ulster coaches the opportunity to try out combinations and to see how the new players perform in a match environment.

It is a good blend of experience with the youthful stars hoping they will get the chance to make the breakthrough into the senior side this season.

Callum Black starts at loosehead alongside Hughes Insurance Ulster Rugby Academy hooker John Andrew, who makes his first start for the province. Ireland international tighthead Declan Fitzpatrick, who has played 86 times for Ulster completes the front row.

In the second row, Academy player Alan O’Connor, starts alongside Springbok international lock and new signing Franco van der Merwe.

Two new signings also make their debuts for the province in the backrow, with former Lansdowne player, Charlie Butterworth, starting at blindside and New Zealander Sean Reidy selected at openside.

Roger Wilson, who represented the Barbarians and played for a World XV against the Springboks this summer, captains the side from the base of the scrum.

In the backs, Paul Marshall starts the game at scrum half with Ian Humphreys who returned to Ulster in the summer starting at outhalf.

Ex Wallace High School pupil, Jacob Stockdale, starts on the right wing with Rory Scholes picked on the left. Michael Allen is selected at 12 alongside former Sharks back and new signing Louis Ludik.

There are 19 replacements named with Ruaidhri Murphy, Wiehahn Herbst, Clive Ross as well as Hughes Insurance Academy players Sean O’Hagan, Frank Taggart, Josh Atkinson, Ross Adair and Jack Owens all set to make their first appearances for Ulster Rugby.

Tickets for the game can be purchased online at ulsterrugby.com/tickets, or from the Ulster Rugby ticket office ahead of the match. Tickets will also be available to buy on the gate. Prices start from £7 for a child and £13 for an adult.

Ulster XV and replacements to face Exeter Chiefs: (15-9) R Andrew, R Scholes, L Ludik, M Allen, J Stockdale, I Humphreys, P Marshall; (1-9); C Black, J Andrew, D Fitzpatrick, A O’Connor, F van der Merwe, C Butterworth, S Reidy, R Wilson (C); Replacements: K McCall, J Murphy, A Warwick, R Murphy, B Ross, W Herbst, L Stevenson, N McComb, J Simpson, C Joyce, C Ross, M McComish, F Taggart, J Atkinson, M Heaney, D Shanahan, R Adair, J Owens, S O’Hagan.