United Rugby Championship: Aaron Shingler skippers Scarlets against Bulls while Evan Roos handed Stormers start at Ulster

Adam Kyriacou

Round 13 of the United Rugby Championship season kicks off on Friday evening with two games as Scarlets host the Bulls while Ulster take on the Stormers.

Scarlets v Bulls

Aaron Shingler captains the Scarlets from flank in the absence of their five stars in the Wales camp ahead of the Six Nations. Dan Davis and Sione Kalamafoni make up the remainder of the loose trio.

Vaea Fifita and Sam Lousi continue their partnership in the second-row whilst there is an all-new front-row in the form of Kemsley Mathias, Daf Hughes and Sam Wainwright.

The half-back partnership remains with Gareth Davies and Sam Costelow, with Ioan Nicholas and Joe Roberts in the midfield.

Johnny McNicholl moves to full-back for Leigh Halfpenny, with Ryan Conbeer and Steff Evans on the wings.

On the bench, Taylor Davies, Steff Thomas and Harri O’Connor are front-row options, with Morgan Jones and Carwyn Tupulotu the other forwards available.

Scrum-half Dane Blacker is joined by Dan Jones and Eddie James as the backline replacements.

Meanwhile, Chris Smith and Johan Goosen have been named to start for the Bulls, who have made several changes to the side that was defeated by Lyon in the Champions Cup.

Ruan Nortje comes back into the starting line-up to captain the side from lock, with Ruan Vermaak packing down alongside him. In the front-row, Johann Grobbelaar is flanked by loosehead prop Gerhard Steenekamp and tighthead prop Mornay Smith as last week’s replacement front-row, starts this week.

The final change in the pack sees Elrigh Louw reclaim the number eight jumper, with Marco van Staden and Cyle Brink retaining the openside and blindside flanker roles, respectively.

Zak Burger starts alongside Smith in a new half-back combination with Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe in the centres.

Springbok outside backs Canan Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse will miss the clash, with David Kriel shifting to the right wing, Stravino Jacobs coming in on the left and Goosen starting at full-back.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Joe Roberts, 12 Ioan Nicholas, 11 Ryan Conbeer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Aaron Shingler (c), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Sam Wainwright, 2 Daf Hughes, 1 Kemsley Mathias
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Harri O’Connor, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Eddie James

Bulls: 15 Johan Goosen, 14 David Kriel, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (c), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johann Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp
Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrick Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Cornal Hendricks, 23 Wandisile Simelane

Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
Assistant Referees: Adam Jones (WRU), Ben Breakspear (WRU)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (IRFU)

Ulster v Stormers

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland will be looking to build on their recent win over Sale Sharks when they face the Stormers at Kingspan Stadium on Friday.

Currently sitting fourth in the URC table, a win could see Ulster leapfrog the Bulls into third place. The match is also important for the Stormers, who sit in second position, as they hope to close the gap to Leinster at the top of the table.

Ulster make one change to the front-row, with loosehead prop Eric O’Sullivan coming in alongside Tom Stewart and Jeff Toomaga-Allen.

Alan O’Connor will lead the side once again, with club captain Iain Henderson in camp with the Ireland squad ahead of the upcoming Six Nations.

Sam Carter retains his place at lock alongside O’Connor, with Academy product Harry Sheridan keeping his place at blindside flanker after an impressive home debut last weekend against Sale Sharks. Last weekend’s Heineken Star of the Match, Nick Timoney, continues at openside alongside Duane Vermeulen at number eight.

Nathan Doak and Billy Burns are also rewarded for their performances last week as they pair up again at 9 and 10 respectively.

James Hume retains his place at outside centre, and he is joined by Stewart Moore at inside centre, who comes in for Ireland-bound Stuart McCloskey.

The back three has just one change, with Academy graduate Ben Moxham coming in for Jacob Stockdale. Winger Rob Lyttle will hope to continue his try-scoring form and Mike Lowry completes the starting XV.

On the bench, John Andrew, Rory Sutherland, Andrew Warwick, Kieran Treadwell and Jordi Murphy provide the forward cover, with John Cooney, Ian Madigan and Ethan McIlroy named as the backline options.

Meanwhile, Stormers prop Ali Vermaak will play his 50th match for the club in the United Rugby Championship encounter in Belfast.

There are a number of changes throughout the team, which also sees some experienced players make their return to action.

Vermaak is joined in the front row by hooker JJ Kotze and Brok Harris, with Scarra Ntubeni back in the mix from the replacements bench, having recovered from a long-term injury.

Marvin Orie will captain the side and resumes his lock partnership with Ben-Jason Dixon. New recruit Ruben van Heerden is in line to make his Stormers debut from the bench.

Evan Roos is back in the starting line-up, having featured as a replacement in the Champions Cup last week. He forms a fearsome loose trio with Willie Engelbrecht and Junior Pokomela on the sides of the scrum.

Jean-Luc du Plessis starts at fly-half for the first time this season and will have Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu next to him in midfield.

Clayton Blommetjies is at fullback and is joined at the back by wings Suleiman Hartzenberg and Cornel Smit.

Veteran centre Juan de Jongh makes his return on a replacements bench that also features Herschel Jantjies and Kade Wolhuter.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Mike Lowry, 14 Rob Lyttle, 13 James Hume, 12 Stewart Moore, 11 Ben Moxham, 10 Billy Burns, 9 Nathan Doak, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Harry Sheridan, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Tom Stewart, 1 Eric O’Sullivan
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Andrew Warwick, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 John Cooney, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Ethan McIlroy

Stormers: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, 11 Cornel Smit, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 Marvin Orie (c), 4 Ben-Jason Dixon, 3 Brok Harris, 2 JJ Kotze, 1 Ali Vermaak
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Marcel Theunissen, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Kade Wolhuter, 23 Juan de Jongh

Venue: Kingspan Stadium
Kick-off: 19:35 GMT
Referee: Mike Adamson (SRU)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Cole (IRFU), Paul Haycock (IRFU)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (SRU)

READ MORE: Wales: WRU chief Steve Phillips responds to damning allegations amid calls for change