Frontline stars back for Ulster and Leinster ahead of PRO12 derby

Ulster's ''Ruan Pienaar
Ulster's ''Ruan Pienaar

Ruan Pienaar, Rory Best, Tommy Bowe and Roger Wilson will all start for Ulster against Leinster in Saturday’s Guinness PRO12 clash in Dublin.

Pienaar has recovered from a knee problem which saw him miss the 13-10 Boxing Day win over Connacht, while Wilson’s shoulder injury sustained in that game has responded to treatment.

Best, who will captain the side, and Bowe return to the side having beein rested under the IRFU player welfare programme.

Along with the three changes, Ulster head coach, Neil Doak, made two positional switches,

In the backs, Peter Nelson moves to fullback while Craig Gilroy switches flanks from the right to the left wing.

There are five changes in the Leinster team, with captain Jamie Heaslip and a host of other internationals returning to the fold.

Four of those changes are in the pack with Jack McGrath and Mike Ross starting in the front row, with Richardt Strauss continuing at hooker.

Devin Toner comes back into the second row to partner Mike McCarthy, while in the back row Jamie Heaslip starts at eight which means a start at blindside flanker for Jack Conan. Shane Jennings start at openside to complete the forwards.

In the backs, there is only one change which sees the fit again Fergus McFadden start on the right wing in place of Darragh Fanning. McFadden had surgery on a thumb injury after the game against the Ospreys in Round 9 of the Guinness PRO12. Dave Kearney is selected on the left wing, with 28 times capped Springbok, Zane Kirchner at full back.

Gordon D’Arcy, who won his 250th Leinster cap against Munster, starts at inside centre with Luke Fitzgerald outside him at 13. Finally, Isaac Boss and Ian Madigan are once again the starting half backs.

There is also a place in the match day 23 for the returning Ben Te’o, who is available for the first time since fracturing his forearm during his debut against Edinburgh in October.


1. Jack McGrath

2, Richardt Strauss

3. Mike Ross

4. Devin Toner

5. Mike McCarthy

6. Jack Conan

7. Shane Jennings

8. Jamie Heaslip CAPTAIN

9. Isaac Boss

10. Ian Madigan

11. Dave Kearney

12. Gordon D’Arcy

13. Luke Fitzgerald

14. Fergus McFadden

15. Zane Kirchner


16. Sean Cronin

17. Michael Bent

18. Tadhg Furlong

19. Kane Douglas

20. Jordi Murphy

21. Luke McGrath

22. Jimmy Gopperth

23. Ben Te’o

ULSTER: P Nelson; T Bowe, D Cave, S Olding, C Gilroy, P Jackson, R Pienaar; (1-8): C Black, R Best (Capt), W Herbst, D Tuohy, F vd Merwe, R Diack, C Ross, R Wilson; Replacements (16-23): R Herring, A Warwick, B Ross, A O’Connor, S Reidy, P Marshall, I Humphreys, L Marshall.