Treviso have 'nothing to lose' after Ospreys hammering, warns Payne
Ruan Pienaar reverts to fly-half against Benetton Treviso at the Stadio Monigo tomorrow afternoon (2.0) as Ulster aim to keep their Pro12 top-four hopes alive.
Pienaar, one of the world's top scrum-halves, is utilised as the main playmaker as coach Mark Anscombe is forced to make a number of changes due to Ireland call-ups and injuries.
Pienaar is partnered at half-back by Paul Marshall after Paddy Jackson was retained by Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt in the squad to face England.
Darren Cave and Luke Marshall are in midfield with Ricky Lutton taking over at tighthead from John Afoa, who has returned home to Auckland due to a family bereavement. With Iain Henderson also at Twickenham, Lewis Stevenson returns from a neck injury to partner skipper Johann Muller in the second-row.
Robbie Diack, Sean Doyle and Roger Wilson are all named in the back-row. Wilson is at No 8 in place of Nick Williams and makes his 147th appearance for Ulster.
While Jared Payne is being mooted to wear Brian O'Driscoll's No 13 jersey when he becomes available for Ireland in September, he is again at full-back, but says he is just glad to get into the starting line-up.
"I know I haven't played much at outside centre this season, but it is a good back line and you just have to get on the pitch wherever you can," said Payne.
"At the (Auckland) Blues I played pretty much a full season at 13, then I came over here and had to learn how to play full-back again. At 13 you're in the defensive line non-stop and then when you're attacking you have to set a few more targets and give guys space to work off," said Payne, who is a little wary of a Treviso side who were hammered 75-7 by the Ospreys last week.
"It's a good and bad time to get them. They are going to be hurting after a loss like that. They are definitely looking to bounce back and they have nothing to lose – they will want to put on a big show for their supporters."
While Ulster have won four straight games in 2014, the opposite applies to Treviso, but have not lost successive games at home for two seasons. Ulster, though, have won all previous six visits to Stadio Monigo.
Treviso – B Williams; L Nitoglia, A Sgarbi, E Bacchin, A Pratichetti; M Berquist, F Semenzato; M Filippucci, M Swanepoel, M Vosawai; V Bernabò, A Pavanello (captain); I Fernandez-Rouyet, F Sbaraglini, M Muccignat. Reps: E Ceccato, G Maistri, R Acosta, C Van Zyl, E Lubian, A Lucchese, J Van Niekerk, A Di Bernardo.
Ulster – J Payne; C Gilroy, D Cave, L Marshall, M Allen; R Pienaar, P Marshall; T Court, R Herring, R Lutton; J Muller (Capt), L Stevenson; R Diack, S Doyle, R Wilson. Reps: N Annett, C Black, A Macklin, N McComb, M McComish, M Heaney, R Andrew, R Scholes.
Ref – G Clancy (IRFU)