Tommy Bowe will make his hugely-anticipated return to the Ulster team when he lines out on the right wing against the Cardiff Blues in Friday’s RaboDirect PRO12 clash at the Arms Park (kick-off 7.05pm).
The Arms Park fixture will see Ulster return to action for the first time since Nevin Spence’s tragic death and the postponement of their round 4 match against Zebre.
Head coach Mark Anscombe has continued the rotation policy which has served his side so well since the start of his tenure.
The New Zealander has made five personnel changes and a further three positional switches to the team that started the 20-19 home win over Munster two weeks ago.
Tommy Bowe will make his seasonal debut in his familiar number 14 jersey, with Andrew Trimble switching to the left wing to accommodate him.
As a result, Michael Allen has moved to outside centre and Darren Cave will don the number 12 jersey worn by Luke Marshall in the opening three matches of the season.
Half-backs Paul Marshall and Paddy Jackson and full-back Jared Payne have all retained their starting places from the Munster match.
Up front, regular captain Johann Muller has picked up a slight knock and is replaced in the second row by Neil McComb. Ireland lock Dan Tuohy will make his first appearance of the season after being named alongside McComb in the engine room.
Fellow international Chris Henry will also play for the first time this season, captaining the side from openside flanker in the absence of Muller. Stephen Ferris has been rested, so rising star Iain Henderson joins Henry and Nick Williams in the back row.
An unchanged front row of Tom Court, Nigel Brady and New Zealander John Afoa completes the province’s starting line-up.
Paddy Wallace, meanwhile, has overcome a shoulder injury which required surgery and has returned to the matchday squad to cover the out-half and centre positions.
ULSTER (v Cardiff Blues): Jared Payne; Tommy Bowe, Michael Allen, Darren Cave, Andrew Trimble; Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall; Tom Court, Nigel Brady, John Afoa, Neil McComb, Dan Tuohy, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry (capt), Nick Williams.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Callum Black, Adam Macklin, Lewis Stevenson, Mike McComish, Michael Heaney, Paddy Wallace, Craig Gilroy.