Ulster Head Coach, Mark Anscombe, has made three personnel and two positional changes to the side that lost to Northampton Saints for Friday night’s match against Leinster at Ravenhill.
Following Tommy Bowe’s knee injury, Andrew Trimble switches to the right wing, with fellow Ireland international, Craig Gilroy named on the left.
Luke Marshall starts at inside centre alongside Darren Cave with Paddy Wallace named on the bench. Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar continue their half-back partnership, while full-back Jared Payne will be looking to add to his record of having scored five tries in nine games in the RaboDirect PRO12 so far this season.
Tom Court, Rory Best and John Afoa all start in an unchanged front row.
Second-row Dan Tuohy suffered a torn calf muscle against Northampton – his place is taken by Neil McComb. In the other changes to the pack, Nick Williams moves from blindside flanker to Number 8 with Roger Wilson dropping to the bench. Robbie Diack starts at 6 with captain Chris Henry continuing at openside.
Four players have been called up to the bench – Rob Herring, Adam Macklin, Alan O’Connor and Adam D’Arcy.
If he comes on, the game will be Alan O’Connor’s first appearance for Ulster. The 20 year old Dubliner joined the Hughes Insurance Ulster Academy in the summer. He played his club rugby at Skerries until he was 18, before playing for two years at UCD. He was part of the Leinster sub-academy before joining Ulster in July.
O’Connor says: “I have come up here to play rugby and hopefully I will get a chance tomorrow night. It wouldn’t phase me to line out against my home Province, I just want to perform at senior level – and playing against the European Champions is just about as competitive as it gets. My dad has tickets for the game and will be making the trip up from Dublin for the match. He is a proud Leinsterman, but I am not sure who he will be cheering for tomorrow night!"
Ulster XV & replacements to face Leinster, RaboDirect PRO12, Friday 21st December, 1905
(15-9): J Payne; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, R Pienaar;
(1-8): T Court, R Best, J Afoa, I Henderson, N McComb, R Diack, C Henry (c) N Williams;
Replacements (16-23): R Herring, C Black, A Macklin, A O'Connor, R Wilson, P Marshall, P Wallace, A D'Arcy.