Connacht were the last team to beat Ulster on home soil and the two sides clash on Friday in the Pro14.
“I think our home performances, we’ve really strengthened it as a fortress out here in front of the fans,” said Ulster’s Craig Gilroy. “I think in previous years it’s been our away form that has let us down a bit but even this season like Bath away, Harlequins away, those are two big performances that gave us a lot of confidence, all-in-all we’re in a really good place at the minute.
“It’s kinda fitting that that was the last loss we had at home and it’s an opportunity, I suppose, to put that right again, it’s at a nice time of year, I always enjoy these Christmas games and into the new year is nice as well, there’s always a buzz around the place, the fans seem to be in good form.
“Connacht been building over the last few years, it was only 2015 that they won the competition, they’ve built on from there and carried a lot of guys on from that as well.
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“So we have to be on the money.
“The coaches here have built a culture of never-say-die, we would use a lot of slogans when we’re in team meetings or coaching, we’re really just fighting for each other, get everything out of it right to the end.
Jack McGrath returns after missing the last five games due to injury while Will Addison starts off a four-game ban.
Iain Henderson and Jacob Stockdale are still under Irish management protocols and sit the game out.
Former Ulster prop Paddy McAllister starts at loose head for Connacht.
Ulster team: (15-9) Will Addison, Robert Baloucoune, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Louis Ludik, Billy Burns, John Cooney; (1-8) Jack McGrath, Rob Herring (Capt), Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee. Replacements: Adam McBurney, Kyle McCall, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, Nick Timoney, David Shanahan, Bill Johnston, Craig Gilroy.