Exciting young Ulster talent, Iain Henderson, will make his Heineken Cup bow against Castres on Friday night.
The 20-year-old signed his first full time professional contract on Wednesday with Ulster Rugby - a three year deal which keeps him with the club until 2015.
It was a timely deal for the former Belfast Royal Academy who , on Thursday, was named in the starting backrow line-up to face the French side along with Stephen Ferris and Chris Henry.
Henderson will start at blindside which means Irish international, Ferris, will switch to No 8.
As revealed by the News Letter on Thursday morning, No 8 Nick Williams was not going to be fit to face Castres having suffered a rib injury in the RaboDirect PRO12 game against Connacht.
He could be sidelined for at least two to four weeks, leaving him missing next week’s Pool Four game in Glasgow.
Although Henderson only has three Ulster senior caps, his performance when starting in the RaboDirect PRO12 in the 48-19 win against Cardiff Blues was impressive and he will get the nod ahead of Mike McComish for the start on Friday.
Henderson, a product of the Ulster Academy, was handed his first cap by former head coach, Brian McLaughlin, against Connacht in April.
He then played against Munster and marked that appearance with a fine individual solo try with an explosive burst down the touchline.
New coach, Mark Anscombe, was impressed enough with the rookie’s performance against Cardiff to put his faith in him for what is a crucial match for Ulster as they embark on a new European adventure.
Henderson was also a star performer for Ireland Under-20s at the Junior World Championship in South Africa in June.
A delighted Henderson said: “I can’t wait. I’ve been watching games at Ravenhill since I was a kid and I’m really looking forward to pulling on the white jersey and experiencing the atmosphere as a player.
Henderson was the only change in the Ulster side to face Castres from the team which won 25-0 against Connacht last week in the PRO12.
Ruan Pienaar returns to the panel from interantional duty with South Africa and is named on the bench, Paul Marshall retaining the scrumhalf jersey.
Ulster: J Payne, T Bowe, D Cave, P Wallace, A Trimble, P Jackson, P.Marshall; T Court, R Best, J Afoa, J Muller, D Tuohy, I Henderson, C Henry, S Ferris. Replacements: R Herring, C Black, A Macklin, L Stevenson, M McComish, R Pienaar, L.Marshall, C Gilroy.