10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
The interprovincial fixture will also see Ireland international Tommy Bowe lining out for Ulster for the first time in four years, following his successful spell in Wales with the Ospreys.
Ireland hooker Rory Best has returned to fitness and will play for the province for the first time since the Heineken Cup final in May.
Fit-again captain Johann Muller, Stephen Ferris and Paddy Wallace have also been drafted in the starting line-up to face the westerners.
Best is joined in the front row by Tom Court and John Afoa. The New Zealander is a late inclusion at tighthead prop after Declan Fitzpatrick aggravated a medial ligament injury in training on Thursday morning.
Muller is back to partner Dan Tuohy in the second row, and Ferris will feature alongside Chris Henry and Nick Williams in an impressive-looking back row.
Centre Michael Allen has been ruled out after suffering an ankle injury in the process of scoring against the Cardiff Blues last weekend. Darren Cave will move to outside centre in his place, allowing Wallace to slot in at inside centre.
Paul Marshall and Paddy Jackson will continue their half-back partnership, while the back-three of Bowe, Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne is also unchanged.
Over 8,000 tickets have been sold for the Ulster v Connacht clash, but there is still availability in all areas of the ground. Please call 02890493222 or visit www.ulsterrugby.com for further details.
Ulster Rugby is appealing to supporters to be mindful of local residents and to avoid parking in the immediate vicinity of the Ravenhill grounds on match nights. Park 'n' Ride will be in operation from Pirrie Park and along Montgomery Road.
ULSTER (v Connacht): Jared Payne; Tommy Bowe, Darren Cave, Paddy Wallace, Andrew Trimble; Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall; Tom Court, Rory Best, John Afoa, Johann Muller (capt), Dan Tuohy, Stephen Ferris, Chris Henry, Nick Williams.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Callum Black, Adam Macklin, Lewis Stevenson, Mike McComish, Michael Heaney, Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy.