Rory Best will become just the fourth Ulster player to reach 200 caps, having been named in the team for Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO14 derby encounter with Leinster at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 6.30pm).
The game will mark Rory Best’s first start of the season, following his return from injury as a replacement against La Rochelle last Sunday. Tickets for tomorrow’s interprovincial derby are sold out. To secure your tickets for Ulster’s upcoming home fixtures, visit www.ulsterrugby.com/buytickets.
Either side of Best, Rodney Ah You also comes into the province’s starting line-up at tighthead, with Callum Black completing the front row. Iain Henderson continues to captain the side as he shifts from flanker to the second row where he partners Alan O’Connor.
Strong-carrying South African Jean Deysel, who missed last week’s Champions Cup outing due to injury, returns at number 8, featuring alongside Ireland-capped flankers Sean Reidy and Chris Henry.
Aaron Cairns will make his first senior start for Ulster as the Ballynahinch clubman is named at scrum-half. He will be partnered at half-back by Australian international Christian Lealiifano.
The Ireland-capped duo of Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall are selected together in midfield, with Jacob Stockdale, Tommy Bowe and Charles Piutau making up a potent-looking back-three.
Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy scrum half Jonny Stewart is in line for his senior debut off the bench, while the fit-again Louis Ludik and Peter Nelson provide the additional back-line cover. Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell and Robbie Diack will offer the back-up forward options.
The players unavailable for selection this week are Peter Browne, Marcell Coetzee, John Cooney, Wiehahn Herbst, Paul Marshall, Kyle McCall, Caleb Montgomery, Jack Owens, Jared Payne, Dave Shanahan and Nick Timoney.
ULSTER (v Leinster): Charles Piutau; Tommy Bowe, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Christian Lealiifano, Aaron Cairns; Callum Black, Rory Best, Rodney Ah You, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (capt), Sean Reidy, Chris Henry, Jean Deysel.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell, Robbie Diack, Jonny Stewart, Peter Nelson, Louis Ludik.