The Ulster team has been confirmed for Saturday’s crunch interprovincial match against Munster at Thomond Park (kick-off 5.35pm) in what is the final round of the GUINNESS PRO14 regular season.
Jono Gibbes’ men need to register a bonus point win in Limerick, while also hoping that Edinburgh fail to pick up any points from their game against Glasgow Warriors, in order to earn a PRO14 semi-final qualifier place next weekend.
Rory Best returns to the captain the Ulstermen from hooker and he will be joined in the front row by Callum Black and Ross Kane. Iain Henderson is back in the second row alongside Alan O’Connor after missing last weekend’s bonus point victory over Glasgow at Kingspan Stadium.
An injury to Jean Deysel means Clive Ross will wear the number 6 jersey, slotting into a back row that is completed by Sean Reidy and Nick Timoney, who bagged a brace of tries last time out against the Warriors.
Ulster will miss the influence of PRO14 top scorer John Cooney, who is unavailable due to concussion, so David Shanahan comes in at scrum half with fellow former Ireland Under-20 international Johnny McPhillips continuing in the out-half role.
Stuart McCloskey, who was the man-of-the-match in last Saturday’s four-try success, is once again partnered in midfield by Luke Marshall. Charles Piutau is unavailable for family reasons, so Louis Ludik occupies the full-back berth, while Jacob Stockdale and Craig Gilroy start on the wings.
Retiring duo Paul Marshall and Tommy Bowe are named on the bench along with Ireland Under-20 starlet Angus Curtis, who will be hoping for more game-time after making his debut last weekend. Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Chris Henry are the forward replacements.
ULSTER (v Munster): Louis Ludik; Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny McPhillips, David Shanahan; Callum Black, Rory Best (capt), Ross Kane, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson, Clive Ross, Sean Reidy, Nick Timoney.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Chris Henry, Paul Marshall, Angus Curtis, Tommy Bowe.