Irish trio and Roger Wilson return to starting team

Jared Payne celebrates his try with Tommy Bowe
Jared Payne celebrates his try with Tommy Bowe

Rory Best, Tommy Bowe and Jared Payne will all start for Ulster on Saturday against Connacht.

They are three of 13 Ireland internationals named in the matchday 23 for the crucial inter-provincial clash, the first of three in a row for Neil Doak’s team.

Best returns to captain the side at hooker, with Payne named at outside centre and Bowe selected on the right wing.

Bowe is joined in the back three by Louis Ludik and the Guinness PRO12’s leading try scorer, Craig Gilroy.

Darren Cave partners Payne in the centre with Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar continuing in the halfbacks.

Up front, Callum Black and Wiehahn Herbst start either side of Best with Dan Tuohy and Franco van der Merwe selected in the second row.

Roger Wilson returns to the side at Number eight with Iain Henderson picked at blindside and Chris Henry at openside in what will be his first start since recovering from heart surgery.

Forwards Rob Herring, Andy Warwick, Bronson Ross, Robbie Diack and Clive Ross join backs Paul Marshall, Ian Humphreys and Stuart McCloskey on the replacements bench.

Ulster: L Ludik; T Bowe, J Payne, D Cave, C Gilroy; P Jackson, R Pienaar; C Black, R Best (capt), W Herbst, D Tuohy, F Van der Merwe, I Henderson, C Henry, R Wilson.

Replacements: R Herring, A Warwick, B Ross, R Diack, C Ross, P Marshall, I Humphreys, S McCloskey.