Preview: Ulster v Zebre

15th Feb 2013, 14:53

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Return: Chris Henry

Return: Chris Henry

Ulster welcome back Ireland forwards Declan Fitzpatrick, Iain Henderson and Chris Henry for the RaboDirect PRO12 clash against Zebre.

Ulster welcome back Ireland forwards Declan Fitzpatrick, Iain Henderson and Chris Henry for the RaboDirect PRO12 clash against Zebre.

Backline players Paddy Jackson, Darren Cave and Chris Cochrane are the other players coming into the team, while there are a further two positional switches.

Dublin born winger Neil Walsh, who joined Ulster last month after a three year spell playing for Melbourne Rugby Club, could make his debut after being named among the replacements. If he makes an appearance on Friday night he will be the 46th player to represent the Province this season, 41 of which are Irish qualified.

Fitzpatrick's inclusion means Tom Court will revert back to loosehead prop, with Rob Herring again starting at hooker. Captain Johann Muller and Lewis Stevenson continue their second row partnership, while flankers Henderson and Henry are joined by Robbie Diack in the back row.

Jackson has replaced Stuart Olding at flyhalf and will line up outside Ruan Pienaar (scrum-half). Cave's return to the number 13 jersey sees Luke Marshall move inside, with Cochrane joining Andrew Trimble and Ricky Andrew in the back three.

Joining Walsh as the backline options on the bench are young Belfast Harlequins half backs Michael Heaney and Stuart Olding. Front row cover is provided by Niall Annett, Callum Black and John Afoa, who returns to the squad after a three week absence. Neil McComb and Mike McComish are also included in the 23.

Meanwhile, with the international break for the Azzurri test side two players are back in Zebre colours, with backs Paolo Buso and Gonzalo Garcia returning.

Friday will also mark the first game with Marco Bortolami as skipper of the white and black stripes after making his first start for the new Italian franchise last Sunday.

Ulster: 15 Ricky Andrew, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Chris Cochrane, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Lewis Stevenson, 4 Johann Muller (capt), 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Calum Black, 18 John Afoa, 19 Neil McComb, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Stuart Olding, 23 Neil Walsh.

Zebre: 15 Paolo Buso, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Alberto Benettin, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Alberto Chillon, 8 Josh Sole, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Filippo Cristiano, 5 Marco Bortolami (capt), 4 Michael van Vuren, 3 Luca Redolfini, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Andrea de Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Carlo Fazzari, 18 Matias Aguero, 19 Dries van Schalkwyk, 20 Nicola Belardo, 21 Alberto Chiesa, 22 Matteo Pratichetti, 23 David Odiete.

Date: Friday, February 15
Kick-off: 19:05
Venue: Ravenhill
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Paul Haycock (Ireland), Barry O'Keeffe (Ireland)
TMO: Peter Ferguson (Ireland)