EUROPEAN RUGBY: Ulster’s Charles Piutau and Ruan Pienaar fit to face Exeter Chiefs

Charles Piutau powers away
Charles Piutau powers away

Charles Piutau will make his Champions Cup debut for Ulster on Saturday evening after being named in the team to face Exeter Chiefs at Kingspan Stadium (7.45pm).

Piutau is the only change to the backline which played against Bordeaux-Bègles on Sunday, as he replaces Craig Gilroy on the left wing.

Ruan Pienaar has recovered from a knee injury and is joined in the starting XV by Ireland backs Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding, Luke Marshall, Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne.

There are three new faces in the starting pack, with Kyle McCall, Pete Browne and Roger Wilson all selected by Director of Rugby, Les Kiss.

McCall will join Rory Best and Rodney Ah You in the front row, while Browne is paired with Franco van der Merwe in the engine room.

Wilson’s inclusion at the base of the scrum means that Sean Reidy will shift to openside flanker, with Iain Henderson continuing in the number 6 jersey.

The replacements bench features front row players Rob Herring, Andy Warwick and Ross Kane, along with fellow forwards Alan O’Connor and Clive Ross. Gilroy, Paul Marshall and Tommy Bowe, who have amassed 453 Ulster caps between them, provide experienced backline cover.

Ulster: J Payne, A Trimble (captain), L Marshall, S Olding, C Piutau, P Jackson, R Pienaar; K McCall, R Best, R Ah You, P Browne, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, S Reidy, R Wilson;

Replacements: R Herring, A Warwick, R Kane, A O’Connor, C Ross, P Marshall, C Gilroy, T Bowe.