Wallace gets chance to pull strings at out-half
WITH the November Internationals looming, Paddy Wallace gets another opportunity to flex his out-half muscles when Ulster take on Edinburgh at Murrayfield in the Magners League this evening (7.05).
Ronan O'Gara and Jonathan Sexton will be contesting the No 10 jersey when Ireland take on South Africa on November 6, but Wallace is the designated cover and he gets another run out in that position, having started there in the drawn match with Connacht a month ago.
Ulster's impressive start to the season was punctured dramatically by Biarritz in the Heineken Cup last weekend and Brian McLaughlin's men will be desperate to restore some confidence before hosting Munster this day week.
He is expected to be without Irish internationals Stephen Ferris, Rory Best and Andrew Trimble for that clash but all three start this evening, with Trimble switching to centre alongside Ian Whitten. With Simon Danielli out injured, the wing positions are taken by Mark McCrea and David Mcllwaine, with Australian Adam D'Arcy at 15.
Chris Henry returns to the back row, but at open-side rather than his best position of No 8, with Pedrie Wannenburg on the bench and no room for the prodigiously talented but woefully under-exposed Willie Faloon. The Ulster replacements are laden with impact potential, however, as alongside Wannenburg are Tom Court, Bryan Young, Ryan Caldwell and Ian Humphreys.
Time was, when Ulster had an away fixture you would immediately write them off, but with their Springbok contingent of Ruan Pienaar, Johann Muller and BJ Botha, next to the likes of Best and Ferris, there is a strong spine.
After a horrific start to their league campaign -- three straight defeats, including a narrow loss at Ravenhill -- Edinburgh have won their last two Magners games, but were beaten by Cardiff and Northampton in Europe.
It leaves them brittle, particularly with Mike Blair on the bench due to illness. Ulster will need to quell the influence of No 8 Netani Talei and marshal the free-scoring Tim Visser on the wing but, with confidence low, Edinburgh could crumble if they are hit early.
Ulster have spent a lot of money bringing in their Afrikaner contingent and this is just the type of fixture to prove it was well spent.
Biarritz was a blow but if Ulster want to be taken seriously, tonight would be a powerful step in that direction. Time to man up.
EDINBURGH -- C Paterson (capt); J Thompson, B Cairns, J King, T Visser; D Blair, G Laidlaw; A Jacobsen, A Kelly, G Cross; S MacLeod, F McKenzie; A MacDonald, R Rennie, N Talei. Reps: F Gillies, K Traynor, D Young, G Gilchrist, S Newlands, M Blair, A Grove, M Robertson.
ULSTER -- A D'Arcy; M McCrea, A Trimble, I Whitten, D McIlwaine; P Wallace, R Pienaar; P McAllister, R Best (capt), BJ Botha; J Muller, D Tuohy; S Ferris, C Henry, R Diack. Reps: A Kyriacou, T Court, B Young, R Caldwell, P Wannenburg, P Marshall, I Humphreys, N Spence.
REF -- J Jones (Wales).
Edinburgh v Ulster,
Live, BBC 2, 7.05