Ulster’s selected team to face Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield on Monday (kick-off 8.15pm) shows a total of five changes.
James Hume makes a timely return from a groin injury, reuniting in midfield with the ever-present Stewart Moore. The luckless Luke Marshall is sidelined with the knee injury he suffered last Sunday against the Scarlets.
Michael Lowry, Matt Faddes and Rob Lyttle continue together in the back-three, while Ian Madigan swaps back in for Bill Johnston at half-back, alongside fellow Ireland international John Cooney.
There is a first start of the current Guinness PRO14 campaign for loosehead Andrew Warwick, and the suspended Kieran Treadwell is replaced by stand-in captain Sam Carter in the second row.
John Andrew, Martin Moore and Alan O’Connor complete the tight five, while Jordi Murphy returns at openside flanker, meaning a positional switch to the blindside for Sean Reidy, last week’s try-scoring player-of-the-match.
South African ace Marcell Coetzee, who has scored an excellent eight tries in six starts so far this season, will be a ball-carrying threat again from number 8
Rainey Old Boys’ Brad Roberts, who has been training with the Ulster squad in recent weeks, is named among the replacements, along with fellow forwards Kyle McCall, Gareth Milasinovich, David O’Connor and David McCann.
20-year-old Academy speedster Aaron Sexton could make his senior competitive debut if called upon from the bench. David Shanahan and Bill Johnston are the reserve half-backs.
Speaking ahead of the round 8 fixture, Ulster skills coach Dan Soper said: “Given the circumstances in which we won that game (last season’s semi-final), I’m sure it will figure in Edinburgh’s pre-match chat.
“But there has been a lot of rugby played since then and we are very much in the here and now. We’ll have a plan to try and be better than we were last weekend and also better than we were back in that semi-final.
“It’s not just the time training on the pitch that helps bring that about – it’s the diligence the guys show off the pitch in analysing and assessing what they are doing. That’s where the gains are made.”
With the start of the Heineken Champions Cup just around the corner, he added: “Ultimately, as coaches, we are driving performance as you can’t control so many factors that impact on the outcome as a result.
“We’ll take a lot of confidence out of it if we are able to win on Monday night, but more importantly we look to have an improved performance.
“We will look to Europe in due time but firstly we want to focus on this week and finishing this block of PRO14 games on a high.”
ULSTER (v Edinburgh): Michael Lowry; Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle; Ian Madigan, John Cooney; Andrew Warwick, John Andrew, Martin Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (capt), Sean Reidy, Jordi Murphy, Marcell Coetzee.
Replacements: Brad Roberts, Kyle McCall, Gareth Milasinovich, David O’Connor, David McCann, David Shanahan, Bill Johnston, Aaron Sexton.