Greg Jones and Schalk van der Merwe set for first Ulster starts
Irish international trio Rory Best, Stuart McCloskey and Sean Reidy return to squad
Schalk van der Merwe in action for the Southern Kings in April 2017. Photograph: Getty Images
The pair made their debuts as replacements in last weekend’s Pro14 win over Benetton at Kingspan Stadium.
Irish internationals Rory Best, Stuart McCloskey and Sean Reidy return to the squad after helping Ireland to an unbeaten November Series, with the latter two selected in Les Kiss’ starting XV.
Paul Marshall, who won his 200th cap last week, will start at scrumhalf, while Christian Lealiifano reverts to flyhalf and retains the captaincy duties.
McCloskey will partner Tommy Bowe in midfield and Craig Gilroy, Louis Ludik and Charles Piutau will form a potent back three combination.
The only change in the front five sees van der Merwe included, as John Andrew, Ross Kane, Alan O’Connor and Kieran Treadwell retain their places within the team. Jones and Reidy will join Nick Timoney in the back row.
Chris Henry has recovered from injury to take his place on the bench alongside fellow forwards Best, Callum Black, Andy Warwick and Matthew Dalton.
John Cooney, Peter Nelson and Andrew Trimble complete the match day 23.
ULSTER: C Piutau; C Gilroy, T Bowe, S McCloskey, L Ludik; C Lealiifano, P Marshall; S van der Merwe, J Andrew, R Kane; A O’Connor, K Treadwell; G Jones, S Reidy, N Timoney.
Replacements: R Best, C Black, A Warwick, M Dalton, C Henry, J Cooney, P Nelson, A Trimble.