ULSTER BRING IN Ruan Pienaar and Paddy McAllister for Friday night’s Heineken Cup pool game with Aironi at Ravenhill.
South African scrum-half Pienaar returns from a hamstring injury to replace Paul Marshall while McAllister starts ahead of Tom Court at loosehead prop for the visit of the Italians.
And Pienaar told Ulster Rugby TV that he has been looking forward to the game.
“It’s great to be back playing again. Italian teams will have a good scrum, a decent line-out and a big pack of forwards,” he said.
“They (Aironi) made some good signings in the backs and have exciting players so we need to be mentally ready. It’s important to get a good start.”
Coach Brian McLaughlin gave Pienaar his backing while explaining the reasoning behind his selections.
“Paul (Marshall) is a terrific player and has proved himself over the past few weeks but Ruan was the Magner’s League Player of the Year last season so he deserves a chance,” said McLaughlin.
“His match time has been limited so it will be good for him to get some time on the pitch. We now have two quality scrum-halves.
“It was important for Paddy McAllister’s development to start in a match at this level. And it means we have the option to bring a quality player like Tom on if we need to.”
Meanwhile, new arrival Stefan Terblanche has been put straight into the matchday squad after a six-week wait on clearance to play ended on Monday.
The 36-year-old former Springbok has signed on a three-month deal and can play on the wing or at full-back.
On Terblanche, McLaughlin added: “He’s a true professional and will add a great deal to the team in terms of his experience.”
Ulster: A D’Arcy; A Trimble, D Cave, N Spence, C Gilroy; I Humphreys, R Pienaar; P McAllister, R Best, J Afoa; J Muller (capt), D Tuohy; S Ferris, C Henry, P Wannenburg. Replacements: A Kyriacou, T Court, A Macklin, L Stevenson, R Diack, P Marshall, P Jackson, S Terblanche.
Aironi: G Toniolatti; S Sinoti, R Quartaroli, G Pizarro, M Pratichetti; T Tebaldi, T Keats; S Perugini, F Ongaro, L Romano; C del Fava, M Bortolami (capt); N Cattina, S Favaro, J Sole. Replacements: T D’Apice , A de Marchi, L Redolfini, G Biagi, F Ferrarini, G Bronzini, N Olivier, G Pavan.