Ulster's Craig Gilroy wings in for Test debut against Argentina
CRAIG GILROY will celebrate his new Ulster contract by making his Test debut against Argentina on Saturday.
The 21-year-old winger yesterday signed a new three-year contract worth between £100,000 and £150,000 a season to remain at the club until the summer of 2016. And his week is expected to get better this afternoon, when Declan Kidney names his starting Test team.
As a reward for his hat-trick of tries in the non-Test game against Fiji in Limerick last weekend, the Belfast native (right) will replace his Ulster team-mate Andrew Trimble in the Ireland team that faces the Pumas.
This will be Gilroy's full international debut, but his presence will not cause any nervous flutters among his team-mates on Saturday. If anything they will be excited to see what he can produce at this elevated level.
Keith Earls admitted during the week to being a big fan of the Ulster flier.
"It's great to see Gilly (and other youngsters) coming through like they did against Fiji, even if they are making me look like a senior player now," Earls said.
"I've always been a big fan of Craig Gilroy. He scored a great try for Ulster against us (Munster) in Thomond Park last season. At the weekend they (young brigade) brought a lot of freshness through and they're willing to work hard. They're exciting."
Gilroy has been mostly limited to appearances off the bench for Ulster this season as he has lost out to his Ireland team-mates Trimble and Tommy Bowe for wing berths. He started the province's opening two Celtic League games but was on the bench for the next five, including their Heineken Cup games.
He returned to the starting line-up for the games against Dragons and Edinburgh before the international break, scoring a try in the latter as Ulster recorded a 42-20 win.
The change on the wings aside, Kidney is set to keep faith with the team that lost to South Africa on November 10, providing Jonathan Sexton comes through today's training session unscathed.
The Leinster out-half has been on the sidelines since experiencing a "tightening of the groin" in the warm-up to the Fiji match but is expected to play a full part in training this morning, after which the team will be officially announced.
Ireland (probable v Argentina): S Zebo; T Bowe, K Earls, G D'Arcy, C Gilroy; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Strauss, M Ross; M McCarthy, D Ryan; P O'Mahony, C Henry, J Heaslip (capt).