Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss has named his team to take on Zebre in Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO12 game at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma (kick-off 5pm local time/4pm Irish time).
Tommy Bowe will play his first match of the season for Ulster after returning from a knee injury sustained on Rugby World Cup duty with Ireland. Andrew Trimble was unable to travel after picking up an illness, so Bowe is selected on the right wing for the round 20 clash.
Franco van der Merwe will make his 50th appearance for the province on Saturday evening, a considerable feat given that he is in just his second season with the province.
Bowe will be joined in the back-three by Craig Gilroy and Jared Payne, who was man-of-the-match in the derby win over Connacht a fortnight ago.
Stuart Olding comes into the back-line at inside centre in place of Stuart McCloskey, who is unavailable due to a shoulder injury. He will be partnered in midfield by Luke Marshall, while Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson will direct affairs from the half-back positions.
Rory Best will captain the side from hooker, with Callum Black and Ricky Lutton continuing alongside him in the front row. Peter Browne is named as van der Merwe’s second row partner.
Sean Reidy, Iain Henderson and Roger Wilson form the back row trio as Nick Williams continues to be ruled out by a shoulder injury.
Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Andrew Warwick, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Paul Marshall, Darren Cave and Rory Scholes are named on a strong bench.
ULSTER (v Zebre): Jared Payne; Tommy Bowe, Luke Marshall, Stuart Olding, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Callum Black, Rory Best (capt), Ricky Lutton, Peter Browne, Ffranco van der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Sean Reidy, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Andrew Warwick, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Paul Marshall, Darren Cave, Rory Scholes.