Stuart Olding will make his first Ulster senior appearance in ten months, after being selected at inside centre for Saturday’s Guinness PRO12 clash against Treviso (Stadio Monigo, 5pm GMT).
The Ireland international, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury against Cardiff last March, is one of seven changes to the side that defeated Oyonnax 56-3 in the Champions Cup last weekend.
Two Hughes Insurance Academy players, Lorcan Dow and Jacob Stockdale, are in line to make their competitive debuts for the Province after being named on the replacements bench, continuing Les Kiss’ policy of giving opportunities to young players.
Rob Herring has been released from the Ireland Six Nations training squad and will captain the side from hooker. Callum Black replaces Kyle McCall, who suffered concussion last week, at loosehead prop, while Ricky Lutton is retained at tighthead.
Franco van der Merwe, who signed a one-year contract extension earlier this week, will continue his second row partnership with Alan O’Connor.
Loose forwards Roger Wilson and Clive Ross are elevated to the starting XV and will be joined in the back row by Sean Reidy. Nick Williams has irritated an old groin injury and is unavailable this week.
The half back berths will be occupied by Paul Marshall and Ian Humphreys, who has scored tries in his past two appearances.
Olding will line out in midfield alongside Darren Cave, while the back three will comprise of Craig Gilroy, Rory Scholes and fullback Louis Ludik.
Dow and Stockdale are joined in the match day squad by fellow Academy player Dave Shanahan. John Andrew, Andy Warwick, Bronson Ross, Pete Browne and Luke Marshall are the other replacements.
TREVISO: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Enrico Bacchin, 12 Alberto Sgarbi ( C ), 11 Tommaso Iannone, 10 Sam Christie, 9 Alberto Lucchese, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Marco Lazzaroni, 6 Andrea De Marchi, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Filo Palmer, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Roberto Santamaria, 1 Alberto De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Cherif Traorè, 18 Filippo Filippetto, 19 Jeff Montauriol, 20 Abraham Steyn, 21 James Ambrosini, 22 Simone Ragusi, 23 Andrea Pratichetti
ULSTER: L Ludik, R Scholes, D Cave, S Olding, C Gilroy, I Humphreys, P Marshall; C Black, R Herring (capt), R Lutton; A O’Connor, F van der Merwe; C Ross, S Reidy, R Wilson.
Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, B Ross, P Browne, L Dow, D Shanahan, L Marshall, J Stockdale.