The Ulster team has been selected for Saturday’s crucial GUINNESS PRO14 clash with Italian side Zebre at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 7.35pm).
Darren Cave will earn his 222nd cap to move him to second on Ulster’s all-time list, overtaking Roger Wilson’s total of 221. The 31-year-old will now have his sights set on Andrew Trimble’s Ulster appearances record of 229.
Cave is again joined in midfield by Stuart McCloskey, who marked his own milestone appearance last Friday night against the Ospreys with a try-scoring man-of-the-match performance in his 100th provincial game.
There is a new half-back partnership with Peter Nelson and David Shanahan pairing up together at out-half and scrum half respectively, while Robert Baloucoune has returned from an ankle injury and will line out on the right wing. Robert Lyttle is picked on the opposite flank and Louis Ludik moves to full-back.
The province’s front row of Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring and Martin Moore is unchanged from last weekend’s 8-0 victory in Bridgend, while Kieran Treadwell comes into the second row alongside captain Alan O’Connor. Sean Reidy will start in the number 7 jersey and is joined in the back row by Clive Ross and Nick Timoney.
The replacements bench is made up of John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Ross Kane, Ian Nagle, Greg Jones, Jonny Stewart, Johnny McPhillips and James Hume, who was one of the three Academy players who signed their first Ulster senior contracts in recent days.
ULSTER (v Zebre): Louis Ludik; Robert Baloucoune, Darren Cave, Stuart McCloskey, Robert Lyttle; Peter Nelson, David Shanahan; Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Martin Moore, Alan O’Connor (capt), Kieran Treadwell, Clive Ross, Sean Reidy, Nick Timoney.
Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Ross Kane, Ian Nagle, Greg Jones, Jonny Stewart, Johnny McPhillips, James Hume.