HOOKER Johnny Matthews goes straight into the Glasgow Warriors side to play Ulster in tomorrow’s pre-season friendly after signing on a short-term contract, and Sean Kennedy is set to make his first appearance in his second spell as a Warrior. Several other recent recruits are poised to make their debuts off the bench in a squad of 32, while the presence among the substitutes of established names such as Rob Harley, Alex Allan and D’Arcy Rae should ensure the side does not weaken too much once the changes start coming thick and fast.
Scrum-half Jamie Dobie, hooker Pat O’Toole, lock Lars Morrice and prop George Thornton are the reserves who will join Matthews in making their debuts. Tim Swinson will captain the side fresh from training with the Scotland World Cup squad, Oli Kebble is named at loosehead after signing a new contract this week, and Matt Smith, Tom Gordon and Adam Ashe make up a strong back row.
“The boys are keen to get out there and play,” head coach Dave Rennie said. “We’ve had a lot of guys involved with Rugby World Cup preparation, so we’ve had a lot of boys come in and train with us. They’ve worked really hard and slotted in nicely, so they’ll get their chance tomorrow.
“Ulster will be in the same boat us, I reckon. They’ll have a few faces away and will be trying a few players out with a few young men, so it’s a chance for both sides to have a look at those guys under a bit of pressure.”
Ulster coach Dan McFarland has named a 29-man squad and has handed stand-off Billy Burns the captaincy for the first time. Matt Faddes and Dave O’Connor will make their debuts from the start, while Sam Carter, another new signing, should join them off the bench.
Ulster (v Glasgow Warriors at the Kingspan Stadium, Saturday, 1.30pm): Michael Lowry; Craig Gilroy, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Angus Kernohan; Billy Burns (c), Jonny Stewart; Kyle McCall, Adam McBurney, Ross Kane, Alan O’Connor, Dave O’Connor, Clive Ross, Marcus Rea, Greg Jones. Substitutes: John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Sam Carter, Kieran Treadwell, Matty Rea, Sean Reidy, Nick Timoney, David Shanahan, J Cooney, Angus Curtis, Luke Marshall, Graham Curtis, Ethan McIlroy.
Glasgow Warriors: Glenn Bryce; Robbie Nairn, Nick Grigg, Robbie Fergusson, Ratu Tagive; Brandon Thomson, Sean Kennedy; Oli Kebble, Johnny Matthews, Adam Nicol, Tim Swinson (c), Kiran McDonald, Matt Smith, Tom Gordon, Adam Ashe. Substitutes: Pat O’Toole, Alex Allan, D’Arcy Rae, George Thornton, Rob Harley, Lars Morrice, Cameron Henderson, Marshall Sykes, Chris Fusaro, Nick Frisby, Jamie Dobie, Ross Thompson, Paddy Kelly, Alec Coombes, Kyle Rowe, Max McFarland, Ollie Smith.