Ulster debut for Pienaar as Tuohy gets chance to stake Ireland claim
AND then there were four. Ruan Pienaar becomes the latest heavy-hitting Springbok to play for Ulster this season when he runs out to face Glasgow at Ravenhill tonight (7.05).
He will be joined by fellow South African stars Johann Muller and Pedrie Wannenburg, although prop BJ Botha is unavailable after damaging his wrist in last weekend's 15-15 draw in Connacht.
However, there is another South African presence at No 8 in Robbie Diack, the uncapped 24-year-old seeking Irish qualification, which means Chris Henry is again at open-side flanker with Wannenburg on the blind-side.
Again, this is not ideal from an Ireland perspective. Henry is a natural No 8 and two South Africans in the back-row means no room for Willie Faloon, who was extremely effective against Connacht and looks the man best equipped to cope with Glasgow open-side John Barclay.
Paddy Wallace is back at inside-centre and Pienaar starts at scrum-half, teaming up with Niall O'Connor at half-back.
Muller forms a potent second-row combination with Dan Tuohy, who had an impressive summer tour with Ireland and, fully restored to fitness, has a chance to stake his claim ahead of the November internationals, while hooker Rory Best leads the team out in his 100th cap for the province.
Ulster face a Glasgow side shorn of confidence after three straight defeats following their win over Leinster. However, the Warriors have won on three of their last four visits to Ravenhill.
With three wins and a draw from their first four matches, Ulster have built up a head of steam and Pienaar's introduction should add to the sense of momentum as they head towards the Heineken Cup.
Home rule by 15.
ULSTER -- J Smith; A Trimble, D Cave, P Wallace, S Danielli; N O'Connor, R Pienaar; B Young, R Best (capt), T Court; D Tuohy, J Muller; P Wannenburg, C Henry, R Diack. Reps: N Brady, P McAllister, A Whitten, T Barker, W Faloon, P Marshall, I Whitten.
GLASGOW -- B Stortoni; DTH van der Merwe, M Evans, G Morrison, F Aramburu; D Weir, C Gregor; J Welsh, F Thomson, M Low; T Ryder, R Gray; R Harley, J Barclay (capt), R Vernon. Reps: P MacArthur, R Grant, E Kalman, A Muldowney, C Forrester, H Pyrgos, R Jackson, R Dewey.
REF -- S Penne (Italy).
Ulster v Glasgow,
Live, RTE2, 7.05