EUROPEAN RUGBY: Rookies handed starts for Ulster in crunch Pool Five game at Exeter

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Ulster have handed rookie scrumhalf Dave Shanahan his first senior start in Sunday’s win or bust European Champions Cup tie away to Exeter Chiefs.

The Irish Province, currently sit in third place on points different from Bordeaux, and need to win the game if they are to have any chance of making the last eight, probably as one of the best three runners-up from across the five pools.

Ulster's Ross Kane

Ulster's Ross Kane

Shanahan, who has 10 apperances for Ulster from the bench preivously, is preferred to Paul Marshall who started last week in the Guinness PRO12 loss to Scarlets.

South African interantional Ruan Pienaar is currently on the injury list having had minor surgery to a knee issue. He is expected to return next month.

Shanahan will be partnered at half back by Paddy Jackson, who kicked a match-winning drop goal when the two sides met at Kingspan Stadium in Round 2 in October. Luke Marshall and Stuart McCloskey will continue their midfield combination outside the Ireland flyhalf.

Piutau, ranked second in the competition for metres made in attack, is selected on the right wing, with captain Andrew Trimble moving to the opposite flank. Louis Ludik, who was impressive in last week’s game at Parc y Scarlets, is retained at fullback.

Exeter Chiefs Gareth Steenson, formerly from Ulster

Exeter Chiefs Gareth Steenson, formerly from Ulster

Ross Kane will make his first European start after being selected in an unchanged front row that also includes Ireland skipper Rory Best and Callum Black.

Browne’s inclusion in the second row alongside Kieran Treadwell means that Iain Henderson will shift to the back row and will wear the number 6 jersey. Chris Henry and Sean Reidy are the other loose forwards named by Kiss.

Clive Ross, Paul Marshall and Jacob Stockdale make way for the new faces in the starting side, but the trio are included among the replacements. John Andrew, Andy Warwick, Jonny Simpson, Franco van der Merwe and Brett Herron also remain in the match day squad.

Gareth Steenson and Ian Whitten will both play against their former club, with Steenson captaining the side.

Exeter Chiefs: Phil Dollman, Jack Nowell, Michele Campagnaro, Ian Whitten, Olly Woodburn; Gareth Steenson (capt), Dave Lewis; Ben Moon, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Greg Holmes, Mitch Lees, Jonny Hill, Tom Johnson, Don Armand. Thomas Waldrom.

Replacements: Jack Yeandle, Moray Low, Harry Williams, Dave Dennis, Kai Horstmann, Stuart Townsend, Joe Simmonds, Ollie Devoto.

Ulster: L Ludik, C Piutau, L Marshall, S McCloskey, A Trimble (captain), P Jackson, D Shanahan; C Black, R Best, R Kane, K Treadwell, P Browne, I Henderson, C Henry, S Reidy;

Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, J Simpson, F van der Merwe, C Ross, P Marshall, B Herron, J Stockdale.