Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss has named his team for Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO12 round 22 clash with the Ospreys in Swansea (kick-off 3pm), as the province aim to make the play-offs for a fourth successive year.
Craig Gilroy, a late withdrawal from the team last week, is reinstated to the starting line-up which is otherwise unchanged from the impressive 30-6 win over Leinster.
Rory Best will again captain the side, with props Callum Black and Ricky Lutton, and second rows Peter Browne and Franco van der Merwe joining him in the front five. The back row trio of Iain Henderson, Chris Henry and Sean Reidy, which performed so effectively in the previous round, is also retained.
The man-of-the-match against Leinster, Ruan Pienaar, will line out alongside Paddy Jackson at half-back, with Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall continuing their centre partnership. Gilroy, Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne complete the back-line.
The bench, which helped to deliver a strong second half performance last weekend, is also unchanged. Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Andrew Warwick, Robbie Diack and Roger Wilson cover the forward positions, while Paul Marshall, Stuart Olding and Darren Cave are included as back-line options.
A bonus point win on Saturday would guarantee Ulster a play-off spot, and also give them an outside chance of that game being in Belfast. Anything less and they will be looking at other results to confirm their place in the last four, although the Scarlets, who are fifth, face a difficult trip away to Munster.
The Ulstermen’s only defeat in the last five rounds of the PRO12 was at Glasgow Warriors in round 18. They will face an in-form Ospreys team who have won their last three matches, all with maximum points.
The Welshmen require a victory to give themselves any chance of acquiring a Champions Cup spot for next season.
ULSTER (v Ospreys): Jared Payne; Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy; Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar; Callum Black, Rory Best (capt), Ricky Lutton, Peter Browne, Franco van der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Sean Reidy.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Andrew Warwick, Robbie Diack, Roger Wilson, Paul Marshall, Stuart Olding, Darren Cave.