Ulster head coach Mark Anscombe has made five personnel changes for the rescheduled RaboDirect PRO12 match against Zebre at the Stadio XXV Aprile on Sunday (kick-off 3pm local time/2pm Irish time).
Ireland props Tom Court and Declan Fitzpatrick have been released from international duty and have been named on the bench.
Half-backs Michael Heaney and Niall O’Connor will start for the Ulstermen in place of Paul Marshall and Ruan Pienaar, both of whom are on international duty this weekend.
Jared Payne will continue at outside centre alongside Paddy Wallace, after scoring a brace of tries in a very impressive performance against Edinburgh earlier this month.
Michael Allen returns to the team for the first time since picking up an ankle injury against the Cardiff Blues in September.
Allen’s inclusion on the right wing results in Chris Cochrane switching to the left flank in place of Ireland XV player Craig Gilroy. Academy full-back Ricky Andrew will make his second start in the back-three.
The front row of Callum Black, John Afoa and Nigel Brady remains intact, with the latter continuing as captain in the absence of Johann Muller.
Robbie Diack – usually a back row player – will come into the second row after Lewis Stevenson’s recent injury. He will be partnered at lock by Neil McComb.
The selected back row sees Nick Williams come in at blindside flanker, while Mike McComish and Roger Wilson retain their places at openside flanker and number 8 respectively.
Court and Fitzpatrick are joined on the bench by hooker Rob Herring, Academy second row James Simpson and Ali Birch who is yet to play this season.
The back-line replacements are all products of the Ulster Academy – Blane McIlroy, Stuart Olding and Peter Nelson. Sunday’s match will be available to watch on BBC 2 Northern Ireland via the red button.
ULSTER (v Zebre): Ricky Andrew; Michael Allen, Jared Payne, Paddy Wallace, Chris Cochrane; Niall O’Connor, Michael Heaney; Callum Black, Nigel Brady (capt), John Afoa, Robbie Diack, Neil McComb, Nick Williams, Mike McComish, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Tom Court, Declan Fitzpatrick, James Simpson, Ali Birch, Blane McIlroy, Stuart Olding, Peter Nelson.