Preview: Ulster v Cardiff Blues

Date published: October 22 2015

Ireland duo Paddy Jackson and Darren Cave have been included in Ulster's squad for the PRO12 tie against Cardiff Blues.

Having returned from World Cup duty this week the pair have been named among the replacements, with Neil Doak making just two changes to his starting XV.

After coming back from injury to earn a place on the bench last week, fly-half Ian Humphreys will start his first competitive match of the season. He will combine with Paul Marshall at half-back and will have Stuart McCloskey and Sammy Arnold alongside him in midfield. The back three of Craig Gilroy, Andrew Trimble and Louis Ludik are retained.

Lewis Stevenson is the only change up front, taking the place of Dan Tuohy, who suffered from a concussion in the defeat to Edinburgh. Franco van der Merwe is his partner in the second row.

Callum Black, Rob Herring (captain) and Wiehahn Herbst will continue in the front row, with Roger Wilson, Sean Reidy and Nick Williams again making up the back row.

Meanwhile, USA international back row Cam Dolan will make his debut for Cardiff Blues.

Dolan, who has arrived at Arms Park following his exploits with the USA Eagles at the Rugby World Cup, is named at blindside flanker as one of four changes made to the team by head coach Danny Wilson.

Josh Navidi returns to captain the team at number eight with Josh Turnbull moving across the back row to openside.

Aled Summerhill, fresh from signing a new long-term deal with Cardiff Blues this week, is recalled on the wing and the final change sees a first start of the season for centre Adam Thomas.

Talented Wales U20 fly-half Jarrod Evans could make his Cardiff Blues after being named on the bench and he is joined by lock Chris Dicomidis who is also looking for his first appearance of the season.

Jarrad Hoeata, Kristian Dacey, Manoa Vosawai, Gavin Evans, Cory Allen, Tom James and Ellis Jenkins miss the game through injury.

Wilson said: “We played some really good rugby last week at Munster and got ourselves in a positon to get a result with ten minutes to go. We’ve now to build on that, our attacking shape has been good, and look to nail down these close games.

“Ulster have a fantastic squad with the likes of Nick Williams, Luke Marshall and Paddy Jackson – from one to 15 they have real quality. They are at home, which is where they are strong and it’s a great venue to go and play rugby.

“We are now a couple of months into me learning about this squad and developing a style of play, environment and culture to take Cardiff Blues forward,” he added.

“Results will come as a result of us improving what we do here. We have been pleased with the steps we have taken so far and we have gone very close to away wins at Leinster, Munster and Connacht.

“We couldn’t have started the season with tougher fixtures with the four Irish provinces away from home and then Zebre away from home.

“We have seen flashes of what we are capable of already, but this is a journey we are all in together and we have got to put the foundations in place now to build for results in the future.”

Form: Ulster's last six matches have all been won by the home side on the day whilst they are unbeaten at Kingspan Stadium in the PRO12 in their last 13 fixtures since Leinster were the visitors in May 2014. If they avoid defeat this weekend Ulster will equal their best ever home unbeaten run in the PRO12 set over a decade ago. Should Cardiff Blues lose this game they will complete a clean sweep of losses away to Irish Provinces over the last four rounds. The Blues most recent victory outside Wales in the PRO12 came when they visited Zebre in the opening round last season. Ulster's solo defeat to Blues in their last six fixtures was 23-28 at Cardiff Arms Park in March 2014 whilst the Welshmen have not been victorious in Belfast since April 2010.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Sammy Arnold, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Roger Wilson, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring (c), 1 Callum Black
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Peter Browne, 20 Willie Faloon, 21 David Shanahan, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Darren Cave.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Aled Summerhill, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Adam Thomas, 11 Richard Smith, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Tavis Knoyle, 8 Josh Navidi (c), 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Cam Dolan, 5 James Down, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Craig Mitchell, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Sam Hobbs
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Taufa’ao Filise, 19 Chris Dicomidis, 20 Macauley Cook, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Garyn Smith

Date: Friday, October 23
Venue: Ravenhill, Belfast
Kick-off: 19:35 local (18:35 GMT)
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)
Assistant Referees: Assistant Referees: Nigel Correll, Paul Haycock (both IRFU)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)