Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss has made eight changes to the team for Sunday’s European Champions Cup tie with Oyonnax at Stade Charles Mathon (kick-off 2pm local time/1pm Irish time).
In line with the player management programme which he and Neil Doak outlined earlier this week, Les Kiss will rest some established players who have completed a long sequence of games over December and the New Year.
The Ulster management team welcome Craig Gilroy back into the starting line-up. The Ireland winger will return to the team at full-back, with Louis Ludik providing cover from a strong replacements bench.
Sam Arnold will start his first European game on the right wing, with Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall continuing their centre partnership. Rory Scholes occupies the left wing berth.
Ian Humphreys and Paul Marshall are selected at half-back with Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar named on an experienced bench.
Prop Wiehahn Herbst has not recovered from a knock he received last weekend, so Ricky Lutton takes his place in the front row alongside captain Rory Best and Kyle McCall. Callum Black, Rob Herring and Bronson Ross will provide front row cover.
Lewis Stevenson replaces Alan O’Connor, who is also nursing an injury he picked up against Munster, in the second row alongside Franco van der Merwe.
There is one change in the back row. After a physically demanding stretch of games, Nick Williams is replaced at number 8 by Roger Wilson. Williams will be joined by Sean Reidy on the bench. Robbie Diack and Chris Henry remain on the flanks.
ULSTER (v Oyonnax): Craig Gilroy; Sam Arnold, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Rory Scholes; Ian Humphreys, Paul Marshall; Kyle McCall, Rory Best (capt), Ricky Lutton; Lewis Stevenson, Franco van der Merwe, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Callum Black, Bronson Ross, Nick Williams, Sean Reidy, Ruan Pienaar, Paddy Jackson, Louis Ludik.