Jared Payne starts at full-back with Andrew Trimble and David McIlwaine lining out on the wings. Chris Farrell and Luke Marshall are selected in the centre with Paul Marshall named at scrum half.
Callum Black and Ricky Lutton start in the front row either side of hooker Rob Herring. Team captain Johann Muller and Dan Tuohy are paired together in the second row with Robbie Diack, Chris Henry and Roger Wilson making up the back row.
Nick Williams, selected as the league's best player last season, was not available for selection as he has returned to New Zealand for family reasons.
The game will be shown live via the BBC red button and online on the BBC Sport NI website.
ULSTER (v Newport Gwent Dragons): Jared Payne; Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall, Chris Farrell, David McIlwaine; Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall; Callum Black, Rob Herring, Ricky Lutton, Johann Muller (capt), Dan Tuohy, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Niall Annett, Tom Court, Declan Fitzpatrick, Lewis Stevenson, Sean Doyle, Ian Porter, James McKinney, Darren Cave.