Ulster's returning Irish trio strengthen Anscombe's hand for Edinburgh clash
IRELAND trio Luke Marshall, Andrew Trimble and Darren Cave have all been included in the Ulster team to face Edinburgh in their Pro12 clash at Ravenhill tonight after they were released from international duty.
Marshall's inclusion means Gordon D'Arcy is almost certain to start at inside centre for Ireland's clash with the All Blacks when the team is named later today.
Marshall's return to the province, along with Craig Gilroy's recovery from injury, means Mark Anscombe fields a dangerous looking backline.
Ireland flanker Iain Henderson also returns to the fray after a four-week lay-off and he is partnered at lock by Lewis Stevenson.
In the back-row, flanker Sean Doyle gets a rare outing alongside Robbie Diack, who leads the side for the first time.
Paul Marshall starts at scrum-half, where he will partner James McKinney, who is making his first competitive start of the campaign.
Marshall agrees the province are coming into an important part of their season. "The next few weeks are massive. It's going to be a tough month and a tough Christmas period," he said.
"We'll want to make sure that we are still competing in the heineken and the Pro12 come Christmas and that means performing in the next four games.
"It's not make or break, but we could put ourselves in a good position or we could put ourselves in a much tougher one, depending on how we go over the next month."
The game also marks the return of former coach Alan Solomons to Ravenhill, who guided the province to league honours in 2003.
"I'm certainly looking forward to going back to Ravenhill," he said. "I've got very fond memories of Ulster and haven't been there for a number of years, so I'm really looking forward to it.
Ulster – C Gilroy; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, M Allen; J McKinney, P Marshall; C Black, R Herring, J Afoa, L Stevenson, I Henderson, R Diack (capt), S Doyle, N Williams. Reps: N Annett, T Court, R Lutton, D Tuohy, R Wilson, I Porter, P Nelson, R Andrew.
Edinburgh – G Tonks; D Fife, J Dominguez, B Atiga, J Cuthbert; H Leonard, S Hidalgo-Clyne; W Blaauw, A Lutui, WP Nel; O Atkins, I van der Westhuizen; T Leonardi, R Grant, C Du Preez. Reps: J Hilterbrand, R Hislop, G Cross, B Toolis, R Rennie, G Hart, S Beard.
Ref – N Hennessy.
Ulster v Edinburgh,
Live, BBC NI, 7.05