Les Kiss has selected his match day squad for Friday’s Guinness PRO12 encounter versus Newport Gwent Dragons at Kingspan Stadium (7.35pm kick-off).
Hughes Insurance Academy prop Ross Kane, Charles Piutau and Brett Herron are in line to make their competitive debuts for the Province, while Ireland internationals Craig Gilroy, Stuart Olding and Sean Reidy return to the team for the first time this season.
Rodney Ah You is unavailable for selection having suffered delayed onset concussive symptoms following Friday’s 29-19 win over Northampton Saints and he will now follow the concussion return to play protocol. With fellow tighthead props Wiehahn Herbst, Ricky Lutton and Jonny Simpson also injured, Kane has been elevated into a starting position.
The 21-year-old will be joined in in the front row by Callum Black and Rob Herring, who will again skipper the side from hooker. Pete Browne and Franco van der Merwe will continue their combination in the second row.
Reidy’s inclusion at openside flanker leads to a re-shuffle in the back row, with Clive Ross moving to blindside and Roger Wilson continuing at number 8.
Herron will partner Ruan Pienaar at half back, while Stuart McCloskey and Olding will form an exciting midfield partnership. Piutau, Gilroy and Ireland U20 star Jacob Stockdale will occupy the back three positions. Louis Ludik was unavailable for selection because of a hand injury picked up against Northampton.
John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Andy Warwick, Alan O’Connor and Robbie Diack will provide forward reinforcements from the bench, with Paul Marshall, Sam Windsor and Robert Lyttle, who is also in line for a competitive debut, offering backline cover.
Tickets for Ulster v Dragons are on sale now from www.ulsterrugby.com/buytickets from just £17 for adults and £12 for children. You can also pay on the gate from 6.00pm on Friday evening.
Ulster team and replacements to play Newport Gwent Dragons, Friday 2nd September, Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 7.35pm):
(15-9): C Piutau; C Gilroy, S Olding, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; B Herron, R Pienaar;
(1-8): C Black, R Herring (captain), R Kane, P Browne, F van der Merwe, C Ross, S Reidy, R Wilson;
Replacements (16-23): J Andrew, K McCall, A Warwick, A O’Connor, R Diack, P Marshall, S Windsor, R Lyttle.