Ulster are bolstered by a few of their returning Eire internationals for Sunday’s European Problem Cup spherical of 16 assembly with Harlequins on the Twickenham Stoop (kick-off 8pm).
Jacob Stockdale, Stuart McCloskey and Billy Burns, who has recovered from a groin damage, will all begin within the back-line, with Michael Lowry reverting to the full-back place.
Match-again winger Robert Baloucoune will relish his first European motion since January 2020, and centre James Hume and talismanic scrum half John Cooney additionally characteristic from the off.
The province’s pack is lacking common captain Iain Henderson and Marcell Coetzee, who’s out with a hamstring damage, however they do welcome again Eire hooker Rob Herring.
He’ll pack down with Eric O’Sullivan and Martin Moore, and behind them are locks Alan O’Connor and Kieran Treadwell, the player-of-the-match final day trip towards Zebre.
There may be one change to the again row from that 49-3 hammering of the Italians, as Nick Timoney reclaims the quantity 8 jersey, alongside Sean Reidy and stand-in captain Jordi Murphy.
21-year-old Academy lock Cormac Izuchukwu is poised to make his European debut off the bench, whereas the opposite ahead choices are John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole and Matthew Rea.
Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan and Ethan McIlroy are the alternative backs for Ulster’s first ever Problem Cup sport. The province’s 157 European outings have all been within the Heineken Champions Cup to this point.
Trying ahead to resume rivalries with Harlequins, who misplaced twice to Ulster in final season’s Champions Cup, hooker Herring mentioned: “It’s thrilling to be again. As a workforce, we need to be competing for Championships. It’s not the Heineken Champions Cup we aspire to play in, however it’s a chance for us to go and do this (within the Problem Cup).
“There’s a whole lot of pleasure round it and there’s an excellent concentrate on a tricky sport towards Harlequins. They’ve turned their season round massively and are enjoying good rugby in the meanwhile.
“It’s a tricky problem for us however one, as a squad, we’re able to tackle. We clearly need to be within the Champions Cup however the best way issues have gone this yr, we solely had two rounds and issues have needed to adapt and we discovered ourselves within the Problem Cup.
“It’s nonetheless a match with a trophy on the finish of the day. We need to be competing and that’s the subsequent step we have to take.
“We’ve been shut for the previous couple of years and obtained into play-offs. We have to take that step ahead and it is a nice alternative for us. We’ve good reminiscences from there (the Twickenham Stoop).
“It’s been an excellent away journey for us previously, however I feel if you take a look at Harlequins in the meanwhile, they’re the in-form workforce within the (English) Premiership.
“The best way they play, they’re the very best workforce in transition and the backs are sensible. The forwards deliver an excellent maul. Sure, we’ve had good occasions previously however it’s going to take so much to attain that once more this weekend.”
ULSTER (v Harlequins): Michael Lowry; Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Billy Burns, John Cooney; Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Martin Moore, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy (capt), Nick Timoney.
Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Cormac Izuchukwu, Matthew Rea, Alby Mathewson, Ian Madigan, Ethan McIlroy.