Ulster director of rugby Les Kiss has named a strong team for the trip to play Cardiff Blues in the GUINNESS PRO12 on Saturday evening (kick-off 5.15pm).
Stuart McCloskey will make his first appearance for the province since September, after overcoming a foot injury he sustained in the PRO12 win over Glasgow Warriors.
The Bangor man will be joined in midfield by fellow Ireland international Luke Marshall, while Ruan Pienaar and Brett Herron will continue their half-back partnership. The experienced trio of Tommy Bowe, Craig Gilroy and Charles Piutau will occupy the back-three positions.
Chris Henry will make his first appearance of the season following his selection at openside flanker. Iain Henderson, who featured prominently in Ireland’s November success, is selected in the number 6 jersey. Sean Reidy is the other loose forward included by Les Kiss, meaning all three back row players are capped by Ireland.
Peter Browne and Franco van der Merwe have been paired together in the second row, with captain Rob Herring set to be joined in the front row by props Kyle McCall and Wiehahn Herbst.
John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Rodney Ah You, Kieran Treadwell and Clive Ross will provide forward cover from the bench, while Paul Marshall, Louis Ludik and Darren Cave are listed as the back-line replacements.
ULSTER (v Cardiff Blues): Charles Piutau; Tommy Bowe, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Craig Gilroy; Brett Herron, Ruan Pienaar; Kyle McCall, Rob Herring (capt), Wiehahn Herbst, Peter Browne, Franco van der Merwe, Iain Henderson, Chris Henry, Sean Reidy.
Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Rodney Ah You, Kieran Treadwell, Clive Ross, Paul Marshall, Louis Ludik, Darren Cave.