The Ulster team has been announced for their sold-out New Year’s Day clash with provincial rivals Munster at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 5.35pm).
Rob Herring has recovered from concussion and will captain the side for the GUINNESS PRO14 derby. Rodney Ah You (wrist) and Kyle McCall (shoulder) have returned from two-month injury lay-offs and will join their skipper in the front row.
Alan O’Connor and Ireland international Kieran Treadwell, who performed so well together in the back-to-back Champions Cup victories over Harlequins earlier this month, are reunited in the second row.
Jean Deysel, who has also been out of action for over two months, is named at number 8, with the Abbey Insurance Academy duo of Nick Timoney and Greg Jones selected alongside the four times-capped Springbok in the back row.
Christian Lealiifano and John Cooney are paired together in the half-back positions once again, while Stuart McCloskey and Louis Ludik will combine in midfield. Young winger Robert Lyttle, a try-scoring replacement against Connacht, will make his first start of the season with Craig Gilroy and Charles Piutau completing an exciting back-three.
A further two Academy players, Adam McBurney and Johnny McPhillips, are selected among the replacements. Callum Black, Wiehahn Herbst, Robbie Diack and Matthew Rea will join McBurney as forward cover, while the experienced Paul Marshall and Andrew Trimble, both of whom have over 200 Ulster caps to their name, round off the matchday 23.
Individual tickets for the match are sold out but you can still attend by purchasing a 2018 Game Pass, which covers all six of Ulster’s remaining home fixtures this season. Visit ulsterrugby.com/gamepass for details.
ULSTER (v Munster): Charles Piutau; Craig Gilroy, Louis Ludik, Stuart McCloskey, Robert Lyttle; Christian Lealiifano, John Cooney; Kyle McCall, Rob Herring (capt), Rodney Ah You, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Greg Jones, Nick Timoney, Jean Deysel.
Replacements: Adam McBurney, Callum Black, Wiehahn Herbst, Robbie Diack, Matthew Rea, Paul Marshall, Johnny McPhillips, Andrew Trimble.