Christian Lealiifano in Ulster XV for his last home match

Wiehahn Herbst is ruled out due to a slight calf issue as Iain Henderson named at lock

Ulster’s Christian Lealiifano will play his last home game at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Ulster’s Christian Lealiifano will play his last home game at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

Christian Lealiifano is in the Ulster XV for his last home match for the province, Saturday’s Champions Cup clash against La Rochelle (Kingspan Stadium, 1.0.).

Craig Gilroy and Louis Ludik return to the backline after missing the Pro14 interprovincial derby versus Leinster last weekend, while John Cooney returns to start at scrumhalf following a replacement appearance in the RDS Arena.

Lealiifano, who returns to the Brumbies later this month, will partner Cooney at halfback.

Ludik joins Stuart McCloskey in midfield, while Gilroy, Jacob Stockdale and Charles Piutau, who leads the way for metres made in this year’s tournament (454), will make up the back three.

Alan O’Connor is re-instated in the second row, where he is paired with Iain Henderson. Academy player Nick Timoney will pack down at number eight, with Matty Rea and Sean Reidy named as the other loose forwards.

Rory Best will again lead the side and he will combine with Callum Black and Rodney Ah You in the frontrow.

Johnny McPhillips could make his European debut after being included among the replacements. He is joined on the bench by Rob Herring, Kyle McCall, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell, Chris Henry, Dave Shanahan and Darren Cave.

Kane, who was initially named in the Ulster A team for this evening’s British and Irish Cup tie, has been called up to the senior squad as Wiehahn Herbst is ruled out due to a slight calf issue.

Limited tickets are still available via ulsterrugby.com.

ULSTER: C Piutau; C Gilroy, L Ludik, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; C Lealiifano, J Cooney; C Black, R Best (captain), R Ah You, A O’Connor, I Henderson, M Rea, S Reidy, N Timoney.

Replacements: R Herring, K McCall, R Kane, K Treadwell, C Henry, D Shanahan, J McPhillips, D Cave.

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