EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP: Darren Cave and Nick Williams back to boost Ulster in final European fling

Ulster's Darren Cave
Ulster's Darren Cave

Darren Cave makes his return from injury as Ulster face Oyonnax in their final pool one game of the European Champions Cup at Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, on Saturday (1pm).

The international centre has been sidelined since the start of December with a shoulder injury.

He comes into the side for Stuart McCloskey, who is rested. McCloskey was one of four uncapped players named in the Ireland squad earlier this week for the opening two rounds of the RBS Six Nations.

New Ireland captain Rory Best has minor back tightness and has not been able to train fully this week, so he will start the game on the bench.

Ruan Pienaar has been ruled out by illness, while Wiehahn Herbst has a foot injury, so Paul Marshall and Ricky Lutton come into the side at scrumhalf and tighthead prop respectively.

Nick Williams also returns having come through return to play protocols.

Commenting on his selection, the Director of Rugby, Les Kiss, said: “It’s great to have Darren (Cave) and Nick (Williams) back in the team. We welcomed Jared (Payne) back last week and that was pleasing for us too. With Rory (Best) on the bench it’s another opportunity for Rob (Herring) to show what a great player and what a great leader he is. Ruan (Pienaar) has been struggling with illness all week so he is unavailable, but we know that Paul (Marshall) will come in and do a fantastic job for us.

“We know our best chance of going through will be by earning a bonus point victory so to give ourselves the best chance we need to play with accuracy and work hard for each other for 80 minutes. We’re optimistic that we can get the job done and with the unpredictability of this competition, there’s a real chance for us to go through. Hopefully there will be a good crowd at Kingspan and we can give them something to cheer about.”

Ulster: J Payne, A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, P Marshall; K McCall, R Herring (capt), R Lutton; A O’Connor, F van der Merwe; R Diack, S Reidy, N Williams;

Replacements: R Best, C Black, B Ross, C Ross, R Wilson, D Shanahan, I Humphreys, R Scholes.

There are still tickets available for the match.