The Ulster team has been named for Friday’s Champions Cup Pool 1 battle against Toulouse at Kingspan Stadium (kick off 7.45pm) has been named.
Rory Best returns to captain the side and will start in the front row alongside Wiehahn Herbst and Kyle McCall, who supporters recently voted as Ulster’s Kingspan Player of the Month for November.
Alan O’Connor has been given the opportunity to start in the second row with the experienced Franco van der Merwe, while Robbie Diack, Chris Henry and Nick Williams will make up the loose forward trio.
There is a new centre partnership with Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall combining in midfield. Craig Gilroy is recalled onto the left wing, with Andrew Trimble occupying the right wing berth and Louis Ludik completing the back three. Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson will continue to direct play from the half back positions.
Rob Herring, who led Ulster to a 14-7 PRO12 win over Edinburgh last weekend, is named on the replacements bench along with fellow forwards Andy Warwick, Ricky Lutton, Clive Ross and Roger Wilson. Paul Marshall and Ian Humphreys will again provide back up for Pienaar and Jackson, with Rory Scholes also included in the match day squad.
Ulster’s Director of Rugby, Les Kiss, is well aware of the threat posed by Toulouse: “They are predictably unpredictable,” he says. “They have a massive squad that is full of internationals, so that gives them some really good options all over the park. They’re second in the Top 14 so it’s a huge challenge for us, but the boys have shown great character and we’ll step up to the plate. Hopefully the conditions are good and the supporters will see a quality game of rugby.”
Tickets for the game are still available at www.ulsterrugby.com/tickets. The match will be televised live on BT Sport.
(15-9): L Ludik, A Trimble, L Marshall, S McCloskey, C Gilroy; P Jackson, R Pienaar;
(1-8): K McCall, R Best (captain), W Herbst, A O’Connor, F van der Merwe, R Diack, C Henry, N Williams;
Replacements (16-23): R Herring, A Warwick, R Lutton, C Ross, R Wilson, P Marshall, I Humphreys, R Scholes.