Preview: Aironi v Ulster

Date published: September 9 2011

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has made one change to the side that will face Aironi in a RaboDirect PRO12 clash on Saturday.

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has made one change to the side that will face Aironi in a RaboDirect PRO12 clash on Saturday.

The Ulstermen got the new season off to a good start with a hard-fought win over Glasgow Warriors last weekend and McLaughlin has largely stuck with the starting XV who secured the victory.

In the only change, Tim Barker has replaced Lewis Stevenson in the second row, where he will partner Dan Tuohy. Stevenson drops to the bench as a result.

The remainder of the pack is unchanged, with Paddy McAllister and Jerry Cronin continuing to partner new father Andi Kyriacou in the front row.

Chris Henry will once again captain the side from the number eight position.

The back-line that faced Glasgow does duty once more against Aironi but there are a further two changes to the replacements bench.

Declan Fitzpatrick has returned to action after suffering a concussion during pre-season and has been named on the bench. Luke Marshall has also earned a place among the replacements at the expense of Peter Henderson.

New signing Jared Payne has arrived in Ireland and while he will travel to Italy he will take no part in the game. Also ruled out is Callum Black who was not considered due to a neck injury.

Meanwhile, there's only one change in the Aironi starting XV.

For the season home opener, head coach Rowland Phillips has opted for Fabio Staibano in place of Luca Redolfini at tighthead prop. Redolfini drops to the bench.

One other change is amongst the replacements, with Simone Favaro replacing Filippo Ferrarini. Favaro makes his return to official games after the injury suffered last season.

New arrived Tyson Keats is not in the 23. New Zealand-born scrum-half arrived in Italy last Wednesday after an intense period Down Under, where he played Super Rugby with Hurricanes and all Taranaki's games in the ITM Cup.

Form: The two sides met on four occasions last season with the Ulstermen conceding just one try whilst scoring 14 themselves. Aironi are still looking to add to their solo victory in this tournament, which was gained against Connacht at Stadio Zaffanella in March. Aironi lost 9-32 at Scarlets in round one of the RaboDirect PRO12 last Sunday. Ulster have won nine of their last ten regular season encounters in the competition, and have won all ten previous matches against Italian opposition in all tournaments.

Aironi: 15 Ruggero Trevisan, 14 Riccardo Pavan, 13 Roberto Quartaroli, 12 Gabriel Pizarro, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Nicola Cattina, 6 Josh Sole, 5 George Biagi, 4 Joshua Furno, 3 Fabio Staibano, 2 Roberto Santamaria (cap), 1 Matias Aguero
Replacements:16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Luca Redolfini, 19 Simone Favaro, 20 Frans Viljoen, 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Alberto Benettin, 23 Gilberto Pavan.

Ulster: 15 Adam D'Arcy, 14 Criag Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Nevin Spence, 11 Ian Whitten, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Chris Henry, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Pedrie Wannenburg, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Tim Barker, 3 Jerry Cronin, 2 Andi Kyriacou, Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Declan Fitzpatrick, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Robbie Diack, 21 Ian Porter, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Luke Marshall

Date: Saturday, September 10
Venue: Stadio Zaffanella
Kick-off: 15:00 (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Neil Hennessy (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Alan Falzone, Giuseppe Vivarini (both FIR)