Following last weekend’s setback in Parma, the Ulstermen will aim to get back on track tonight when they entertain Edinburgh who have not won in Belfast in five years.
GUINNESS PRO12: Friday, October 3
ULSTER (3rd) v EDINBURGH (9th), Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm (live BBC 2 Northern Ireland/BBC ALBA)
Team News: Jared Payne has recovered from injury and will start at outside centre for Ulster in their GUINNESS PRO12 clash with Edinburgh at Kingspan Stadium on Friday.
The inclusion of Payne is one of ten changes and two positional switches to the side that lost to Zebre in Italy last weekend.
Louis Ludik, Andrew Trimble, Payne and Paul Marshall all come into the back-line, with Tommy Bowe switching from the right wing to the left.
Up front, loosehead prop Ruaidhri Murphy starts his first competitive match for Ulster, as does Hughes Insurance Academy lock Alan O’Connor. Captain Rory Best returns to the side at hooker, with Wiehahn Herbst filling the tighthead berth.
Franco van der Merwe continues in the second row, while in the back row Robbie Diack returns at blindside flanker, Chris Henry comes in at openside and Roger Wilson switches from blindside to number 8.
Forwards Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick, Bronson Ross, Lewis Stevenson and Nick Williams are named on the bench, as are backs Michael Heaney, Stuart Olding and Darren Cave.
More than 15,000 tickets have been sold for the Ulster v Edinburgh game, which will be broadcast live on BBC 2 Northern Ireland. The Premium areas, the Memorial End Stand and the East Terrace are now sold out.
To purchase remaining available tickets and to select your area, please click here. Tickets will be available to purchase on the gate from 6pm on match night, however these will be restricted to one terrace only and therefore pre-purchasing is strongly advised.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh’s club captain Mike Coman returns from injury to lead the side out in the league for the first time this season.
New Zealander Coman, who starts at blindside flanker, is one of four changes to the Edinburgh team that drew 20-all with the Scarlets last time out.
Elsewhere in the forwards, BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy Level 3 prop Rory Sutherland makes his first start at loosehead, while Grant Gilchrist and Roddy Grant are promoted from the bench to start at lock and openside flanker respectively.
One change to the backs sees one of last week’s try scorers against the Scarlets, Phil Burleigh, move from the bench to start at out-half.
ULSTER: Louis Ludik; Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Stuart McCIoskey, Tommy Bowe; Paddy Jackson, Paul Marshall; Ruaidhri Murphy, Rory Best (capt), Wiehahn Herbst, Alan O’Connor, Franco van der Merwe, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Andrew Warwick, Bronson Ross, Lewis Stevenson, Nick Williams, Michael Heaney, Stuart Olding, Darren Cave.
EDINBURGH: Greig Tonks; Jack Cuthbert, Sam Beard, Andries Strauss, Tim Visser; Phil Burleigh, Sean Kennedy; Rory Sutherland, Ross Ford, John Andress, Anton Bresler, Grant Gilchrist, Mike Coman (capt), Roddy Grant, Cornell du Preez.
Replacements: James Hilterbrand, Allan Dell, Willem Nell, Ollie Atkins, Tomas Leonardi, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Tom Heathcote, Nick McLennan.
Referee: Claudio Blessano (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan, Brian MacNeice (both Ireland)
Television Match Official: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ulster to win: 1/7; Draw: 30/1; Edinburgh to win: 4/1
Pre-Match Quotes: Chris Henry (Ulster) – “Last week (against Zebre) was a blip, and it was hard to win with 14 men, but every player in the squad knows what a massive four weeks lie ahead. We now need to get some form and there is no better place to do than at home this Friday.
“You look around the squad of players, we have strength in depth in every position, so I think these four weeks will be a huge challenge for us, but every player is relishing the opportunity to get stuck in it.
“Our discipline has not been good. We have already had two yellow cards and a red this season, and we talk about discipline all the time. We just can’t let ourselves down like that. Also our set piece isn’t really firing as it should be.
“Edinburgh will be tough. They have been a bit hit and miss this season, but when they are at their best they will give any team trouble. They have big strong wingers, a good back row at the breakdown and a big pack.
“They also work hard around corners and carry well. We will have to work hard to nullify that threat, particularly up front. We want to be the best pack in the league so it’s all about improving.”
Mike Coman (Edinburgh) – “I’m really excited to be back. It’s been a frustrating two weeks, not being able to play and I’m looking forward to the challenge of Ulster.
“They’re a very well balanced team with good attacking options all over the park. The boys have trained really well this week, though, and are determined to build on last week and put in a really good performance out there on Friday night.”
Top Scorers – 2014/15 GUINNESS PRO12: Ulster – Points: Ian Humphreys 33; Tries: Dan Tuohy 3; Edinburgh – Points: Tom Heathcote 35; Tries: Jack Cuthbert, Cornell du Preez, Hamish Watson, Tim Visser, Phil Burleigh 1 each
RECENT LEAGUE MEETINGS:
Friday, January 6, 2012 – Edinburgh 20 Ulster 42, Murrayfield
Friday, March 2, 2012 – Ulster 38 Edinburgh 16, Ravenhill
Friday, November 2, 2012 – Ulster 45 Edinburgh 20, Ravenhill
Friday, March 22, 2013 – Edinburgh 14 Ulster 8, Murrayfield
Friday, November 22, 2013 – Ulster 41 Edinburgh 17, Ravenhill
Friday, March 21, 2014 – Edinburgh 3 Ulster 9, Murrayfield
– Ulster suffered a first defeat of their GUINNESS PRO12 campaign against Zebre in Parma last Saturday
– Ulster’s only defeat in their last eleven PRO12 encounters in Belfast came against Leinster on May 2
– Edinburgh drew 20-all at home to the Scarlets last Friday, their first tie since Glasgow visited the home of Scottish Rugby in December 2011
– The Scotsmen have already beaten an Irish province on their own soil this season, lowering the colours of Munster in Limerick in round 1
– Edinburgh’s only victory over Ulster in their last seven meetings in all tournaments was 14-8 at Murrayfield in the PRO12 on March 2, 2013. The Scotsmen have not won in Belfast since September 2009