Head coach Jono Gibbes has named his team for Friday’s GUINNESS PRO14 encounter with Edinburgh at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 7.35pm).
The starting XV shows just four changes from the side that defeated Southern Kings 59-10 last weekend, as Louis Ludik, Tommy Bowe and Jean Deysel replace the injured Charles Piutau, Robert Lyttle and Sean Reidy respectively, while Rob Herring is released from Ireland duty to start at hooker.
With just three points separating Ulster in third and Edinburgh in fourth in the Conference B table, Friday’s game will be another hugely important clash. Tickets for the crunch round 15 match are still available via ulsterrugby.com/buytickets.
Ludik and the fit-again Bowe are straight swaps for full-back Piutau and left winger Lyttle, as they come in to join last week’s man-of-the-match, Craig Gilroy, in the back-three. Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall are retained in the centre, as are the half-back pairing of John Cooney and Johnny McPhillips.
In the pack, Deysel will wear the number 8 jersey, with Nick Timoney, whose first senior contract with the province was confirmed yesterday, shifting to openside flanker and Matthew Rea continuing at blindside.
Andrew Warwick and Wiehahn Herbst will scrum down either side of Herring in the front row, with Alan O’Connor captaining the province for the second game in succession alongside Kieran Treadwell in the second row.
John Andrew, Kyle McCall and Rodney Ah You will provide the front row back-up on the bench, with current Ireland Under-20 international Matthew Dalton and Chris Henry the additional forward options.
Jonny Stewart, who is also part of Noel McNamara’s Ireland U-20 squad, Darren Cave and David Busby will offer back-line cover, with back-three specialist Busby in line to make his first appearance of the season if called upon.
ULSTER (v Edinburgh): Louis Ludik; Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Tommy Bowe; Johnny McPhillips, John Cooney; Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Wiehahn Herbst, Alan O’Connor (capt), Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, Nick Timoney, Jean Deysel.
Replacements: John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Rodney Ah You, Matthew Dalton, Chris Henry, Jonny Stewart, Darren Cave, David Busby.