Rory Best and Johann Muller back for Ulster to face Montpellier

Ulster's Rory Best and Johann Muller were expected to be confirmed as starting against Montpellier
Ulster's Rory Best and Johann Muller were expected to be confirmed as starting against Montpellier

British & Irish Lions hooker, Rory Best and South African lock Johann Muller start for Ulster in the crunch Heineken Cup Pool Five match against Montpellier on Friday night at Ravenhill (8pm).

Best has been out for seven weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured bone in his right arm.

After being given the nod to return to playing from his surgeon on Monday, Best came through key training sessions on Tuesday and takes his place in the front row alongside fellow Irish international and Lion, Tom Court and World Cup winning prop with New Zealand John Afoa.

Muller returns to captain the side in the second row after he had no adverse reaction to training after aggravating a calf injury last week.

He had been rested for the RaboDirect PRO12 derby away game to Leinster over the festive period but was due to lead the side against Munster last week before he was ruled out with the calf issue.

Muller also came through training on Tuesday and provided there was no further reaction would team up with Dan Tuohy in the second row.

Ulster head coach, Mark Anscombe, has selection choices to make in the backrow ahead of the penultimate Pool Five match, which is almost something of a novelty since the start of the season given recent injuries to a number of key players.

Chris Henry will again start at openside after making his return from a seven week layoff against Munster last week.

Nick Williams, who made his return from injury off the bench last week, starts at No 8, with Roger Wilson on the bench. Chris Henry and Robbie Diack retain their places in the back row.

The same backline which played against Munster will start against the French side.

Scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar and fullback Jared Payne, who stood out against Munster, and indeed when they came off the bench in the defeat to Leinster, will be key to Ulster’s attack provide the pack provide the sort of quality ball they did in the first half of the 29-19 win over Munster.

Andrew Trimble will make his 58th appearance in Europe, passing the previous record held by David Humphreys who is now director of rugby at the club.

Ulster head coach, Mark Anscombe, has again gone for a six-two ratio on the bench, as he did last week.

Ulster: J Payne, A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy, P Jackson, R Pienaar; (1-8): T Court, R Best, J Afoa, J Muller (Captain), D Tuohy, R Diack, C Henry, N Williams.

Replacements: R Herring, C Black, D Fitzpatrick, I Henderson, R Wilson, S Doyle, P Marshall, M Allen.