Ulster head coach Brian McLaughlin has announced a 30-man squad ahead of the province’s Magners League clash with Aironi at Ravenhill on Friday (kick-off 7.05pm).
Ulster have again been bolstered by the return of Tom Court and Paddy Wallace from the Ireland squad, with Scotland’s Simon Danielli, who was used as a replacement against Ireland last Sunday, also available.
Fit-again centre Darren Cave is pushing for selection after playing 40 minutes for the Ulster Ravens against Moseley last week.
The province’s squad is almost at full strength and will be hoping to build on their excellent bonus point win over the Cardiff Blues last time out.
Aironi are currently winless in their first ever Magners Legue campaign but have showed on a number of occasions that they have the ability to cause an upset. A perfect example is their 28-27 win over French side Biarritz in the Heineken Cup.
This will be Ulster’s fourth game against Aironi since September. They beat the Italian newcomers away in the Magners League, and had a double success in the Heineken Cup pool stages.
Lock Johann Muller, who captained Ulster to victory against Cardiff, told BBC Northern Ireland: “I think for the first time this season, we finished off the all opportunities we created. To get five points against a quality side like Cardiff was a really special effort.
“Defensively, we were also really good, only giving one try away. Hats off to everybody and hopefully it can continue into the next game.
“It’s great to see the younger boys getting the opportunities they deserve, playing at a higher level. They are really doing well and hopefully they can continue to do that and improve as players.
“If you look at Aironi’s last few games, they played Leinster and with five minutes to go they were trailing 16-13. And then they lost 22-10 to Munster over the weekend.
“Once again, they’re a quality side. They’ve been unlucky not to get a win so far. We’ve just go to make sure that we’re at our best again and try to meet the standards that we set (against Cardiff).”
ULSTER Squad (v Aironi Rugby) – Backs (15): Ruan Pienaar, Paul Marshall, Ian Humphreys, Niall O’Connor, Paddy Wallace, Ian Whitten, Nevin Spence, Luke Marshall, Darren Cave, Andrew Trimble, Simon Danielli, Tommy Seymour, Craig Gilroy, Jamie Smith, Adam D’Arcy.
Forwards (15): Jerry Cronin, Declan Fitzpatrick, Paddy McAllister, Bryan Young, Tom Court, Nigel Brady, Andi Kyriacou, Neil McComb, Johann Muller, Tim Barker, Pedrie Wannenburg, Thomas Anderson, Willie Faloon, Chris Henry, Robbie Diack.