Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss has selected an unchanged squad for Friday’s GUINNESS PRO12 semi-final against Leinster at the RDS (kick-off 7.45pm).
It will be a special occasion for Chris Henry, who will win his 150th cap for his home province, after being named at openside flanker. The 31-year-old made his Ulster debut in the 21-10 Heineken Cup win over Harlequins back in January 2009 and has scored nine tries to date.
Henry will be joined in the back row by Iain Henderson and Sean Reidy for his landmark appearance. Captain Rory Best, Callum Black and Ricky Lutton will form the front row, with second rows Peter Browne and Franco van der Merwe completing the pack.
Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson are again named at half back, with Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall due to line up in midfield. Craig Gilroy, Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne are selected together in the back-three.
Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Andrew Warwick, Robbie Diack and Roger Wilson provide strong cover for the forwards off the bench, while the Ireland-capped trio of Paul Marshall, Stuart Olding and Darren Cave are also included in the matchday 23.
A run of four straight wins has secured Ulster’s place in the PRO12 knockout stages for a fourth consecutive year. But, in Leinster, they will face a determined and well-drilled team that finished top of the PRO12 standings after the regular season matches, thereby earning home advantage for the semi-final.
The RDS will host its sixth PRO12 play-off clash in the last seven years, highlighting Leinster’s strength in the competition in recent times.
ULSTER (v Leinster): 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.