Peter Horne returns from injury to start at fly-half for Glasgow Warriors at the Kingspan Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
The news comes as a boost to Gregor Townsend’s men as they travel to Belfast to face play-off chasing rivals Ulster.
Fresh from signing a new three-year-contract with Glasgow, Horne makes his return to the Warriors starting XV following a spell on the side-lines with an ankle injury.
The Scotland international’s return to fitness comes ahead of schedule following successful surgery on an injury sustained the Guinness PRO12 fixture against Munster at the start of December.
Brandon Thomson will make his Glasgow Warriors debut at full-back having joined the club last week on a short term deal from the Stormers.
Lee Jones and Sean Lamont start outside of Thomson on the wings and Mark Bennett returns from international duty to start outside of Nick Grigg in the centres.
Henry Pyrgos will pair up with the returning Horne, captaining the side at scrum-half.
In the front-row Sila Puafisi returns to the starting XV at tight-head, with James Malcolm at hooker and Alex Allan at loose-head.
Once again Brian Alainu’uese and Scott Cummings combine in the second-row and at open-side flanker Simone Favaro is released from Italy duty to play his first game for the Warriors since the beginning of January.
Rob Harley and Adam Ashe start as the other loose forwards.
On the bench Namibian international Tjiuee Uanivi features for the first time since injuring his shoulder in the reverse fixture against Ulster back in September.
Hooker Corey Flynn is called up to the bench and Rory Hughes will cover the back-three.
Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said: “Peter Horne is one of our hardest working players and a leader on and off the pitch, so his return will give everyone a boost. It’s a credit to our medical staff that Peter and Tjiuee (Uanivi) are both available for what is a crucial match.”
“Brandon (Thomson) has integrated really well since his arrival and showed a good level of physicality while playing for Stirling County at the weekend. He has a very good rugby brain and is a quick learner, and is relishing the opportunity to play for the club.
“It’s also great to be able to include Mark (Bennett) and Simone (Favaro) who both played Test match rugby last weekend. We will require everyone in our squad to play with huge commitment, effort and belief as we look to bounce back from last week’s disappointing result.”
Glasgow Warriors team to play Ulster in the Guinness PRO12 at the Kingspan Stadium, Saturday 18 February, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 3pm). You can also follow the action on Twitter @GlasgowWarriors. Glasgow Warriors appearances in brackets:
15. Brandon Thomson (0)
14. Lee Jones (48)
13. Mark Bennett (64)
12. Nick Grigg (12)
11. Sean Lamont (109)
10. Peter Horne (106)
9. Henry Pyrgos (118)
1. Alex Allan (42)
2. James Malcolm (17)
3. Sila Puafisi (35)
4. Brian Alainu’uese (8)
5. Scott Cummings (10)
6. Rob Harley (154)
7. Simone Favaro (28)
8. Adam Ashe (33)
16. Corey Flynn (11)
17. Jamie Bhatti (2)
18. D’arcy Rae (18)
19. Tjiuee Uanivi (3)
20. Lewis Wynne (11)
21. Grayson Hart (30)
22. Richie Vernon (86)
23. Rory Hughes (19)
Not available due to injury: Sam Johnson (ankle), Pat MacArthur (head), Peter Murchie (hamstring), Greg Peterson (shoulder) and Leonardo Sarto (shoulder).