Rob Lyttle will make his 50th appearance when Ulster host the Scarlets in the United Rugby Championship at Kingspan Stadium on Friday (kick-off 7.35pm).
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Lyttle’s inclusion on the left wing sees the in-form Ethan McIlroy move to full-back, with the Ireland-capped Craig Gilroy returning on the right wing.
There is a new-look centre pairing of Angus Curtis, who retains the number 12 jersey, and Ben Moxham, while Billy Burns and Nathan Doak, who turned 20 last month, continue as the starting half-backs.
Ulster picked up no new injuries from last week’s Heineken Champions Cup pool win over Clermont Auvergne. Stewart Moore (knee) remains unavailable, while Andrew Warwick has recovered from concussion.
There are three personnel changes and a positional switch up front, with hooker John Andrew rejoining Eric O’Sullivan and Martin Moore in the front row.
Australian Sam Carter pairs up with captain Alan O’Connor at lock, and Greg Jones is added to the back row. Marcus Rea shifts to the openside and Duane Vermeulen anchors at number 8.
Gareth Milasinovich has returned from his short-term loan to Saracens and is named on the bench, with Brad Roberts, Jack McGrath, Mick Kearney and David McCann to provide the other forward options.
David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Aaron Sexton, who has been a regular try for Malone in the Energia All-Ireland League this season, are the back-line replacements.
With Ulster lying third in the URC table and facing into some key fixtures, prop Moore said: “We have spoken about it. This is a big part of our year now, the Six Nations period, especially with games that weren’t scheduled (for now).
“We have five games that could make or break our ambitions in the league this year and we’re going to do it with some of our squad away (with Ireland), so that responsibility lies with the rest of us that are here.
“It is a challenge that we kind of look forward to taking on as a group. There is no room for error, it is getting to the business end of the season in the league and the Champions Cup.
“We are very aware of all that and hopefully we can get the results to put us in a good position come the spring.
“We know a lot about what the Scarlets do, obviously with Dwayne Peel being there after being a coach with us and (looking after) our attacking structures for the last few years.
“We won’t take them lightly. They could turn up and not be at the races, but more likely than that they’re going to be really keen to hit the ground running.”
ULSTER (v Scarlets): Ethan McIlroy; Craig Gilroy, Ben Moxham, Angus Curtis, Rob Lyttle; Billy Burns, Nathan Doak; Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Martin Moore, Alan O’Connor (capt), Sam Carter, Greg Jones, Marcus Rea, Duane Vermeulen.
Replacements: Brad Roberts, Jack McGrath, Gareth Milasinovich, Mick Kearney, David McCann, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Aaron Sexton.