Rory Best to make Ulster seasonal debut

The Irish hooker will line out against Zebre in Ravenhill for his first home match

Ulster Captain Rory Best will make his first appearance of the season against Zebre at Ravenhill on Friday evening (kick-off 7.35pm). The British and Irish Lions' hooker is one of eight changes to the side that played in last week's high scoring draw (32-32) away to Scarlets.

Best is joined in the front row by Andrew Warwick, with Wiehahn Herbst retaining his place at tighthead prop. Dan Tuohy also keeps his place and is partnered at lock by Lewis Stevenson.

Kiwi Nick Williams comes into the side at number 8 to form a strong looking backrow as Ulster seek their first win. He is joined there by Robbie Diack and Chris Henry.

Ireland's Darren Cave and Luke Marshall form an international centre partnership with Andrew Trimble and fullback Ricky Andrew coming into the back three alongside Craig Gilroy. Paul Marshall and Ian Humphreys retain their half-back partnership for a second week..

Fans will also get a chance to see Ruaidhri Murphy, a close season signing from the Brumbies, as he is in line to make his first PRO12 appearance from the bench.

Ulster (v Zebre, Friday Ravenhill KO: 7.35pm): R Andrew; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy; I Humphreys, P Marshall; A Warwick, R Best (c), W Herbst, L Stevenson, D Tuohy, R Diack, C Henry, N Williams. Replacements - R Herring, R Murphy, B Ross, F van der Merwe, R Wilson, M Heaney, S Olding, L Ludik.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times