Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen will skipper Ulster in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash against the Vodacom Bulls in Belfast on Saturday.
Vermeulen, who led the Ulstermen to a 31-24 bonus-point win against the Sharks in Durban on 25 February, completes a strong back row alongside Ireland international Nick Timony and 22-year-old Dave McCann.
Leading the front row against the SA opposition, Andy Warwick starts at loosehead prop and is joined by Tom Stewart at hooker, who is back after being part of Ireland’s Six Nations-winning training squad. They will be packing down with Jeff Toomaga-Allen at loosehead prop.
Kieran Treadwell, who featured for Ireland in the Grand Slam win against England, is back starting in the second row alongside experienced Wallaby Sam Carter.
Nathan Doak keeps the No 9 jersey after a Player of the Match performance against Cardiff before a two-week break in the URC, where he scored a try and slotted six out of six conversions. Billy Burns joins him at flyhalf.
Stewart Moore and James Hume keep their places in Ulster’s centre positions, while the back three sees a welcome return for winger Rob Baloucoune, who hasn’t featured for Ulster since early January. He is joined by Jacob Stockdale and fullback Mike Lowry.
Head coach Dan McFarland has opted for a six-two split on the bench with John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Alan O’Connor, Harry Sheridan and Marcus Rea named as forward options, and John Cooney and Jude Postlethwaite covering the backline.
? Team News
Your Ulster team to take on @BlueBullsRugby tomorrow in the URC! ?
? Duane Vermeulen captains the side
? Treads is back after the Ireland Grand Slam win
? Rob Baloucoune returns pic.twitter.com/gK8pJZyL34
— Ulster Rugby (@UlsterRugby) March 24, 2023