EUROPEAN CUP: Seven changes on Ulster side for trip to Oyonnax

Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss
Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss

Ulster Director of Rugby, Les Kiss, has made seven changes to his team for the first European Champions Cup game of the season, away to Oyonnax on Saturday afternoon (kick off 1pm GMT).

Ireland wingers Andrew Trimble and Craig Gilroy return to the side for the clash at Stade Charles Mathon and they will play in the back three alongside fullback Peter Nelson. Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson will start together at half back for the first time this season, while Luke Marshall and Darren Cave will line out in midfield.

Kiss has rewarded Kyle McCall with another start, following an impressive display against Dragons last week. Captain, Rory Best, will operate at hooker in place of Rob Herring, while Ricky Lutton has been given an opportunity at tighthead.

Dan Tuohy and Franco van der Merwe will continue their second row partnership, while Robbie Diack and Chris Henry will be joined in the back row by number 8 Nick Williams.

Callum Black, Wiehahn Herbst, Lewis Stevenson and Sean Reidy will provide forward cover on the bench alongside Herring. Hughes Insurance Academy scrumhalf, Dave Shanahan, as well as Ian Humphreys and Louis Ludik, are also included among the replacements.

Oyonnax will host their first ever Champions Cup game and Kiss believes that makes them an extremely difficult proposition:

“They would like nothing more than to say they have won their first ever Champions Cup game. We just don’t want to be ambushed by that and we’ve got to make sure we’re level-headed. We’re very aware that they will be a tough task at home; they’ve earned their way into the competition on the back of their form at home in the Top 14.

“They’ve got a crowd that get right behind them and we’ve got to make sure we produce a performance that can absorb that and hopefully quieten the crowd and put us on the front foot.”

ULSTER: Peter Nelson, Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Kyle McCall, Rory Best (captain), Ricky Lutton, Dan Tuohy, Franco van der Merwe, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Nick Williams;

Replacements (16-23): Callum Black, Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst, Lewis Stevenson, Sean Reidy, Dave Shanahan, Ian Humphreys, Louis Ludik.