Luke Marshall: Ulster centre follows up try-scoring cameo against Leinster with first start in 10 months against Glasgow

Ulster's ''Luke Marshall during the Heineken Champions Cup Quarter Final against Leinster
Ulster's ''Luke Marshall during the Heineken Champions Cup Quarter Final against Leinster

After a 10-month absence from playing due to a serious knee injury, Ulster centre Luke Marshall will make his first start on Friday night when the Province face a crunch Guinness PRO14 game against Glasgow.

Marshall suffered an ACL in a European Champions Cup play-off match on the final day of last season against Ospreys in May.

It has been a long road back, but he made his eagerly anticipated return in last week’s Champions Cup quarter-final tie against Leinster.

Marshall came off the bench at the Aviva Stadium and within a minute had crossed the line for a try which drew Ulster level at 18-18 with defending European Champions Leinster.

However, the holders were to go on and book a semi-final date with Toulouse back in Dublin later this month with a 21-18 victory.

Marshall starts at centre in place of Darren Cave and forms the midfield partnership with Stuart McCloskey.

Although Iain Henderson is absent following his return to playing after injury last week and captain Rory Best is not available due to an ankle injury, Ulster have gone for a strong side to face the Scottish region.

Although both sides are in different conferences, the game for each is crucial as they chase play-off places in the PRO14 Championship.

Glasgow are seeking to secure a home semi-final place, topping Conference A by three points from Munster.

Leinster have already secured the semi-final place from Conference B, but Ulster lie in second place four points ahead of Benetton and a win tonight would put them in a really strong position ahead of a return to Scotland next week to take on Edinburgh, currently lying in fourth place and hunting down one of the two remaining play-off places.

Ulster have made three further changes with Alan O’Connor coming into the second row to replace Henderson, Sean Reidy comes in for Nick Timoney and Rob Lyttle is named on the wing to replace Robert Baloucoune.

Winger Jacob Stockdale starts once again.

Having had a taste of the big stage last week in Dublin, skills coach Dan Soper said the players were now hungry for more knockout rugby.

“It was a disappointment at the weekend, but we cannot dwell on that,” said Soper.

“It is done, it’s gone and we take our learnings, take our medicine and move on.

“One thing that we do take away from Saturday is how much everybody enjoyed the day, on being on the big stage.

“The taste for it, they just want to be back in that environment again.

“And that was probably the over-riding feeling after the initial half an hour, talking to the guys.

“They want to be playing in big games like that again.

“We are in a position to put ourselves in that position again this season. We are not targeting any particular games other than the next game.

“It’s great that after a weekend of disappointment we have something to focus on and get our teeth into again,” he added.

Glasgow also suffered Euro quarter-final disappointment last weekend, although they were well and truly thumped at Saracens, losing 56-27.

Former Ulster player, Tommy Seymour, missed the game through injury and in fact makes his comeback from that injury picked up during the Six Nations serious.

Scotland wing Seymour’s inclusion is one of five changes to Dave Rennie’s side following the loss to Sarries last weekend.

Niko Matawalu, Adam Ashe, Jonny Gray and Chris Fusaro return with Gray making his 100th Warriors appearance and Fusaro captaining the side.

Glasgow Warriors: S Hogg, T Seymour, K Steyn, S Johnson, N Matawalu; A Hastings, A Price; O Kebble, F Brown, Z Fagerson, R Harley, J Gray, A Ashe, C Fusaro (capt), M Fagerson.

Replacements: G Stewart, J Bhatti, S Halanukonuka, S Cummings, T Tameilau, G Horne, P Horne, R Nairn.

Ulster: M Lowry, R Lyttle, L Marshall, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; B Burns, J Cooney; E O’Sullivan, R Herring, M Moore, A O’Connor (capt), K Treadwell, S Reidy, J Murphy, M Coetzee.

Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, T O’Toole, I Nagle, M Rea, D Shanahan, D Cave, A Kernohan.