Dragons v Ulster: Teams are confirmed for Guinness PRO14 meeting at Rodney Parade
Irish internationals John Cooney and Jordi Murphy have both been released to Ulster ahead of Sunday’s Guinness PRO14 game against Dragons at Rodney Parde, Newport (3pm).
It was widely expected scumhalf Cooney would again get time with his Province having been used as a substitute during Ireland’s third Six Nations game against Italy.
Backrow forward Murphy started against Italy and had maybe not been expected back.
However, with Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt not taking any chances on injury free Iain Henderson, Murphy’s return will be welcomed by Ulster.
With Billy Burns having recovered from a calf injury, he steps back into the outhalf role.
Cooney, Burns and Murphy’s inclusions are the only changes to the Ulster side which defeated Zebre 54-7 last weekend.
Ulster moved up to third place in Conference B of the PRO14 and they really need to pick up another win against the struggling Dragons to keep their play-off hopes on track.
This will be the end of the three-week mini block of matches during the Six Nations period and with two wins from two, Ulster want to close the period off with a third success.
Assistant coach, Dwayne Peel said: “Dragons may have lost heavily away last weekend, but you cannot read into that at all, you only have to look at their home record.
“I played there for years and years. I remember the days when Newport Rugby Club were there with a star studded team and a great atmosphere with sellouts.
“Rodney Parade is maybe being a ground we don’t traditionally do well at.
“We haven’t really spoken about that this week. We have to go there positive and take this game as it is, a massively important game for us in the context of the league.
“We realised that last week, we carried that (into the Zebre game) and let’s be honest every game from here on in is going to have to be treated the same.
“We go away this week, we have a home game and then two away games on the spin after that, so it’s a tough old run-in for us so we’re going to be focused for every game.”
Dragons: Jordan Williams; Hallam Amos, Adam Warren, Jarryd Sage, Dafydd Howells; Josh Lewis, Rhodri Williams; Brok Harris, Richard Hibbard (Capt), Lloyd Fairbrother, Joe Davies, Matthew Screech, Huw Taylor, Taine Basham, Harri Keddie
Replacements: Rhys Lawrence, Josh Reynolds, Leon Brown, Max Williams, Lennon Greggains, Tavis Knoyle, Jason Tovey, Tyler Morgan
Ulster: L Ludik; R Baloucoune, D Cave, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; B Burns, J Cooney; E O’Sullivan, R Herring, M Moore, A O’Connor (capt), K Treadwell, S Reidy, J Murphy, N Timoney.
Replacements: A Warwick, J Andrew, W Herbst, I Nagle, M Rea, D Shanahan, J Hume, P Nelson.