Ricky Andrew will make his first start for Ulster after being named at fullback for the RaboDirect PRO12 encounter with Edinburgh on Friday night at Ravenhill (kick off 7.05pm).
Andrew is one of nine personnel changes to the starting team which won away to Dragons last weekend, with seven of those in the pack. Head coach Mark Anscombe has named a relatively inexperienced bench, which includes development prop Ricky Lutton*, who will earn his first ever cap if he is used against the Scots.
With Andrew earning his second cap at fullback, Jared Payne has switched to outside centre, a position he occupied on a regular basis for his previous club Auckland Blues. Chris Cochrane will make his fourth appearance for Ulster after being named on the right wing, with Craig Gilroy on the left flank. The half back pairing of Paul Marshall and Ruan Pienaar remains unchanged from last weekend, while Paddy Wallace will start alongside Payne in midfield.
Nigel Brady will captain the team from hooker in an all new front row which includes Callum Black and John Afoa.
Lewis Stevenson retains his place in the second row and is joined in the engine room by Neil McComb. Stephen Ferris has returned from a back injury to take his place at blindside flanker, with Mike McComish and Roger Wilson coming in at openside flanker and number 8 respectively.
Lutton is joined by fellow Belfast Harlequins front row players Niall Annett and Adam Macklin on the replacements bench. Robbie Diack will provide cover for second row and back row after recovering from a leg injury, with Nick Williams the other forward replacement. Young Academy members Stuart Olding and Peter Nelson, along with flyhalf Niall O’Connor, are the backline replacements.
Unbeaten Ulster continue to set the pace atop the RaboDirect PRO12 table, and have a perfect played eight, won eight record in all competitions this season. Edinburgh Rugby have slipped to six successive reversals in all competitions since beating Zebre 41-10 at Murrayfield on 14th September. The Ulstermen’s single loss at Ravenhill in the last 12 months was 8-16 to Leinster on 20th April and they will be expecting to continue that excellent home form.
Ulster XV & replacements to face Edinburgh, RaboDirect PRO12, Friday 2nd November, Ravenhill (7.05pm):
(15-9): R Andrew; C Cochrane, J Payne, P Wallace, C Gilroy; R Pienaar, P Marshall;
(1-8): C Black, N Brady (capt), J Afoa, L Stevenson, N McComb, S Ferris, M McComish, R Wilson;
Replacements (16-23): N Annett, R Lutton, A Macklin, R Diack, N Williams, N O’Connor, S Olding, P Nelson.
* Richard Lutton
Club: Belfast Harlequins
Height: 1.83m (6' 0")
Weight: 115kg (18st 0lb)