Ulster and Munster have named their sides for their interpro encounter on Saturday, the first match for both sides in the new decade.
Both teams ended 2020 with an unbeaten record in the new Guinness PRO14 season, both sitting at the top of their respective conferences.
Ulster are coming into the weekend off the back of a 32-19 victory over Connacht on the Sunday after Christmas, while Munster have had an extra week to train off their Christmas dinner, as their derby with Leinster was rescheduled due to COVID-19.
Ulster look to remain ahead of Leinster
— Ulster Rugby (@UlsterRugby) January 1, 2021
Dan McFarland has made 11 changes ton the side that beat Connacht last week, with a number of regular starters returning to their starting positions.
Jacob Stockdale returns to assume the full-back role and will be joined on the wings by Ethan McIlroy and Matt Faddes.
Stuart McCloskey comes in to partner James Hume in midfield. Billy Burns and John Cooney return to make up the half-back pairing.
In the front row, Eric O’Sullivan and Marty Moore will pack down at loosehead and tighthead prop, with Rob Herring at hooker.
Sam Carter will captain the side from the second row, and will pair up with Kieran Treadwell, who maintains his place in the starting lineup.
Academy back-row, David McCann will make his first senior start for Ulster at openside flanker, and will be joined by Matty Rea at blindside and Nick Timoney at Number Eight.
Ulster Academy loosehead, Callum Reid could make his senior debut if called upon, and is named alongside Adam McBurney, Tom O’Toole and David O’Connor.
Reid’s Academy colleague, scrum-half Nathan Doak could also make his debut from the bench – he is named with Ian Madigan and last week’s debutant, Ben Moxham, in the back line reinforcements.
After the news broke last week that Marcell Coetzee will be returning to South Africa at the end of this season, the Springbok makes his return to the province in the forward replacements.
Momentum is with Munster
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) January 1, 2021
Johann van Graan has also made a number of changes for the interprovincial clash, with Niall Scannell and Liam Coombes making their first appearances of the season.
Academy out-half Ben Healy has successfully rehabbed the shoulder injury sustained against Harlequins to start in the number 10 jersey.
In the replacements there is a return for Dave Kilcoyne who is included in his first match-day squad since injuring his ankle against Leinster in August.
Shane Daly, who is the only player to retain his starting position from the Clermont game, makes the switch to full back for his second appearance of the season and joining him in the back three are wingers Coombes and Calvin Nash.
Rory Scannell and Dan Goggin form the centre partnership while Craig Casey joins Healy in the half back pairing.
It’s a new front row combination with Liam O’Connor, Niall Scannell and John Ryan starting together for the first time, and behind them are Fineen Wycherley and captain Billy Holland in the second row.
Completing the pack is a back row of Jack O’Donoghue, Chris Cloete and Jack O’Sullivan.
Another young academy out-half, Jack Crowley, is in line to make his Munster debut if sprung from the bench.
15. Jacob Stockdale
14. Matt Faddes
13. James Hume
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Ethan McIlroy
10. Billy Burns
9. John Cooney
1. Eric O’Sullivan
2. Rob Herring
3. Marty Moore
4. Kieran Treadwell
5. Sam Carter, CAPTAIN
6. Matty Rea
7. David McCann
8. Nick Timoney
16. Adam McBurney
17. Callum Reid
18. Tom O’Toole
19. David O’Connor
20. Marcell Coetzee
21. Nathan Doak
22. Ian Madigan
23. Ben Moxham
15. Shane Daly
14. Calvin Nash
13. Dan Goggin
12. Rory Scannell
11. Liam Coombes
10. Ben Healy
9. Craig Casey
1. Liam O’Connor
2. Niall Scannell
3. John Ryan
4. Fineen Wycherley
5. Billy Holland, CAPTAIN
6. Jack O’Donoghue
7. Chris Cloete
8. Jack O’Sullivan
16. Rhys Marshall
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. Roman Salanoa
19. Thomas Ahern
20. Tommy O’Donnell
21. Nick McCarthy
22. Jack Crowley
23. Darren Sweetnam
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