Stephen Ferris also returns to the side and the Maghaberry man will be eager to continue his fine form after a strong GUINNESS Series with Ireland.
Looking forward to playing for the province again, Ferris said: "We have to have a mentality that this is a must win game. Yes, there is a lot of rugby to be played in the league before the end of the season, but we want to be winning all our games.
"Connacht can be very physical and they have surprised a few teams this season, including Leinster, so we cannot assume that we are going to get things all our own way.
"The breakdown will prove crucial and I think if it is anyway dry, we must get quick ball up front and get our backs away. It is important we concentrate on ourselves and get the team gelling together as it did in the win against Munster."
Ferris is joined in the back row by David Pollock and Robbie Diack.
In the backs, Ireland squad member Paddy Wallace joins Darren Cave in a lively-looking centre partnership.
Cave, who greatly impressed in the Portugal game, will be hoping to replicate his try scoring feats against Connacht.
The wing berths will be filled by Fijian flyer Timoci Nagusa and Ireland 'A' international Mark McCrea, who will start his first competitive game for the province this season.
The half-back pairing of Ian Humphreys and Cillian Willis worked well against Munster last time out in the league and Humphreys is all too aware of the threat that Connacht present.
"Connacht are a very good team and they like to battle hard, so we are in no doubt that it is going to be a tough encounter," the out-half said.
"There isn't much different in terms of points between the two sides so we really want a good result to build on our win against Munster."
On the replacements bench, Kieron Dawson and Matt McCullough will cover the back row and Tom Court and Nigel Brady are there as front row cover.
Tickets are still on sale for the game from Ravenhill, online at the Ulster Rugby website or over the telephone on 02890493222 option 2. TIckets will also be available on the Ravenhill gate from 6pm on Friday night.
ULSTER (v Connacht): Bryn Cunningham; Timoci Nagusa, Darren Cave, Paddy Wallace, Mark McCrea; Ian Humphreys, Cillian Willis; Justin Fitzpatrick, Rory Best (capt), BJ Botha, Ed O'Donoghue, Ryan Caldwell, Stephen Ferris, David Pollock, Robbie Diack.
Replacements: Nigel Brady, Tom Court, Matt McCullough, Kieron Dawson, Isaac Boss, Paul Steinmetz, Simon Danielli.