Preview: Toulouse v Ulster

Date published: December 18 2015

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Toulouse have made nine changes to the side that failed to score a single point in last week's bruising loss to Ulster in the Champions Cup.

Alexis Palisson, Kunatani Kunabuli and Timoci Matanavou form a new back three for the four-time European champions.

Florian Fritz replaces Toby Flood at inside centre while Luke McAlister is a new face at fly-half.

In the pack Imanol Harinordoquy replaces Louis Picamoles at number eight, with Gregory Lamboley taking over from Joe Tekori in the second row.

Finally, Julien Marchand and Cyril Baille join Census Johnston in the front row.

Meanwhile, Ulster boss Les Kiss makes two changes to the starting team that defeated the French giants 38-0 last Friday, both of which come in the back row, as Kiss carefully manages his playing resources during a busy fixture schedule.

Sean Reidy is set to make his Champions Cup debut after being named at openside flanker, while Roger Wilson will start at number eight in place of Nick Williams.

Rory Best will again captain the side from hooker and will be flanked in the front row by Kyle McCall and Wiehahn Herbst. Alan O'Connor and Franco van der Merwe continue in the second row.

The backline is unchanged from last week; Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson occupy the half-back positions, Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall start in midfield and Craig Gilroy, Andrew Trimble and Louis Ludik make up the back three.

Form: Ulster were the first team in Champions Cup history to keep Toulouse scoreless in a match when they beat them 38-0 in Round 3. Toulouse are still just 21 points shy of their 4000th in the Champions Cup. Toulouse have lost just twice in 10 home matches against Irish opponents in the Champions Cup. Toulouse have averaged the most (19) and Ulster the fewest (3.5) offloads per game this season in the Champions Cup.

The teams:

Toulouse: 15 Alexis Palisson, 14 Kunatani Kunabuli, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Florian Fritz, 11 Timoci Matanavou, 10 Jean-Marc Doussain, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Yacouba Camara, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Gregory Lamboley, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Gurthro Steenkamp, 18 Gert Muller, 19 Joe Tekori, 20 Louis Picamoles , 21 Gillian Galan, 22 David Mele, 23 Clément Poitrenaud

Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Alan O'Connor, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Kyle McCall
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Louis Stevenson, 20 Nick Williams, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Ian Humphreys, 23 Rory Scholes

Date: Sunday, December 20
Venue: Stade Ernest Wallon
Kick-off: 14:00 local (13:00 GMT)
Referee: JP Doyle (England)
Assistant Referees: Darren Gamage (England), Paul Burton (England)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)

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