Glasgow Warriors have included three new faces in their starting XV for their opening RaboDirect PRO12 visit to Ulster on Friday.
Glasgow Warriors have included three new faces in their starting XV for their opening RaboDirect PRO12 game against Ulster at Ravenhill on Friday.
The Scottish outfit are eager to get their 2011/12 campaign off to a good start having struggled last season, finishing second from bottom.
Sean Lineen's men have added incentive having suffered two agonising defeats to the Ulstermen last time out, going down 22-19 at home before losing the return fixture 19-17 thanks to a Ruan Pienaar penalty off the last kick of the match.
“This is a great opportunity for the guys to go to a fantastic rugby arena like Ravenhill and show what it means to pull on the Warriors jersey and perform for our supporters.
“We were hugely disappointed to come away empty-handed from both Ulster games last season, because on each occasion we felt we competed well and put ourselves in a position to win,” Lineen told the club's official website.
“The fact that Ulster just pulled clear both times is a reminder of the quality they have in their squad, and also the fact that you've got to be right on top of your game for 80 minutes to bring home the right result.
“That's what we're looking for on Friday night: a passionate, calculated performance that gives us the opportunity to win.”
Inside centre Troy Nathan, tighthead prop Mike Cusack and winger Tommy Seymour will all be making their debuts for Glasgow, with Seymour returning to Ravenhill having left Ulster in the off season.
The Warriors will be without eleven players who are on duty with the Scotland at the World Cup as well as Johnnie Beattie (knee), Alex Dunbar (knee), Calum Forrester (knee), Dave McCall (hand), Peter Murchie (shoulder), Gordon Reid (back) and Fergus Thomson (shoulder) who are all injured.
Lineen concedes that the numerous absentees add a further hurdle in what is already a difficult fixture but he is hopeful that it will have a positive effect on the team.
“We've got a lot of guys unavailable because of the IRB Rugby World Cup, and while that presents a number of challenges, it also gives other players the chance to really step up and make their mark,” he said.
Meanwhile Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has named Paul Marshall and Ian Humphreys at half-back.
Ian Whitten finds himself out of his regular position in the centre as he occupies the left wing berth for the first time. He is joined in the back-three by Adam D'Arcy and last season's top try scorer Craig Gilroy.
Chris Henry will captain the side from number eight and Lewis Stevenson will make his first competitive appearance for Ulster and will partner Dan Tuohy in the second row. Andi Kyriacou is at hooker while Jerry Cronin and Paddy McAllister start at prop.
Academy duo Conor Carey and Peter Nelson, as well as development player Adam Macklin, are named among the replacements so are in line for their first competitive appearance.
Nelson, in his first year out of school, has impressed in the pre-season friendly matches against Neath and Harlequins and will cover positions 11 to 15. Nineteen year old Carey has been playing club rugby for Ballymena and put in a number of excellent performances for the Ravens in the British & Irish Cup last year. Macklin also appeared for the Ravens but missed most of last season with an ankle injury.
McLaughlin is confident that his side can hit the ground running after an excellent pre-season win over Harlequins last Friday.
“The key thing is that we build on what we did last weekend. We're very pleased with the tempo that we played at; we're pleased with the way that we were trying to play,” he said.
“We've got to make sure we cross the whitewash on Friday night and do exactly the same, only better. It's a matter now of proving we can do it in the heat of battle and in the heat of the competition.”
McLaughlin feels the World Cup call ups that have hit his squad is a positive, rather than a negative: “To have nine players away representing their country is outstanding for us and we're very pleased. From our point of view it's exciting and challenging. ”
The Ulster coach feels the early stages will go a great way to show who is capable of challenging for honours at the end of the season.
“I hope that we will be up there in and around the top three or four, that's one of our aims. The final placings in the league will not be decided in the next 6 or 7 weeks but I think you'll get a fair handle on just what other sides have in their squads.”
Form: Ulster have won their last six matches at Ravenhill in the competition, whilst the most recent Scottish side to lower Ulster's colours at their famous ground was this weeks' opponents Glasgow Warriors on 4 December 2009. Glasgow Warriors have been victorious in round one for the past three seasons, but finished their last campaign with three successive reversals.
Ulster: 15 Adam D'Arcy, 14 Craig 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 Lewis Stevenson, 3 Jerry Cronin, 2 Andi Kyriacou, 1 Paddy McAllister.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Conor Carey, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Neil McComb, 20 Robbie Diack, 21 Ian Porter, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Peter Nelson.
Glasgow: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Rob Dewey, 12 Troy Nathan, 11 Colin Shaw, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Colin Gregor, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 James Eddie, 5 Rob Harley (capt), 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Jon Welsh.
Replacements:16 Finlay Gillies, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Ed Kalman, 19 Nick Campbell, 20 Rory Pitman, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Federico Aramburu.
Date: Friday, September 2
Referee: Leighton Hodges
Assistant Referees: Paul Haycock, John Carvill
TMO: Peter Ferguson