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All change for Ulster as teams named for Connacht clash

Matt Healy back for Connacht, as hosts make nine changes for Kingspan Stadium clash

Ulster’s Iain Henderson is named in the backrow for Connacht encounter. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes has made nine changes to the side that lost 27-23 to Zebre last weekend for the visit of provincial siblings Connacht to the Kingspan stadium on Friday night (7.35).

Charles Piutau, Luke Marshall, Christain Lealiifano, John Cooney, Jean Deysel and Iain Henderson are the players retained with the latter switching from secondrow to blindside flanker. Ulster will be looking to defend an unbeaten record against Connacht in Belfast that dates back to November, 1960.

Connacht coach Kieran Keane is able to restore Matt Healy to the backline following a groin injury and this allows Tiernan O’Halloran, who scored two tries against the Scarlets last week, to revert to fullback in place of Darragh Leader.

Kieran Marmion makes his 100th appearance for the province, Finlay Bealham is named at tighthead prop while John Muldoon returns to captain the side. Eoin McKeon shifts from number eight to blindside flanker.

Ulster: C Piutau; T Bowe, L Marshall, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; C Lealiifano, J Cooney; K McCall, R Herring, W Herbst; A O’Connor, K Treadwell; I Henderson, C Henry (capt), J Deysel. Replacements: J Andrew, A Warwick, R Ah You, R Diack, S Reidy, P Marshall, P Nelson, L Ludik.

Connacht: T O’Halloran; C Kelleher, B Aki, T Farrell, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, F Bealham; U Dillane, Q Roux; E McKeon, J Butler, J Muldoon (capt). Replacements: D Heffernan, D Coulson, C Carey, J Cannon, E Masterson, C Blade, S Crosbie, E Griffin.

Referee: A Brace (Ireland)