Roger Wilson, Ulster’s most capped player, will earn his 221st and final cap for the Province when he starts at number 8 in Saturday’s sold out clash with Leinster (kick-off 5.15pm at Kingspan Stadium).
While qualification for the Guinness PRO12 playoffs is still mathematically possible, it would require the unlikely scenario of Ulster beating table toppers Leinster with a try-scoring bonus point, Ospreys losing to Scarlets without any bonus points, and Ulster making up a points difference of 73.
Wilson, one of an elite list of players who have made over 300 professional appearances, has enjoyed two stints at his home Province, either side of a four-year spell at Northampton where he represented the Saints on 117 occasions.
Ruan Pienaar, who has become a favourite with the Kingspan Stadium faithful during the past seven seasons, will also make his final competitive appearance for the club on Saturday, as he adds to his tally of 140 caps and 877 points in the Ulster jersey.
Pienaar takes his place at scrum-half in what is an unchanged back line with Paddy Jackson operating outside him in the number 10 jersey. Charles Piutau, captain Andrew Trimble and Craig Gilroy provide the back three firepower while the Irish international partnership of Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall continue in midfield.
In the pack, Wilson will be flanked by fellow loose forwards Robbie Diack and Sean Reidy. Kieran Treadwell and Alan O’Connor continue in the engine room for the sixth successive game, while in the front row, hooker Rob Herring and tighthead prop Rodney Ah You come in to join Andy Warwick.
Prop Kyle McCall is in line to make his first appearance of 2017 having recovered from a significant hamstring injury away to Clermont in December, as he is named among the replacements. John Andrew, Wiehahn Herbst, Chris Henry and Nick Timoney are the other backup forwards, while Paul Marshall, Peter Nelson and Jacob Stockdale will provide the backline cover.
Ulster team & replacements to play Leinster, Guinness PRO12, Saturday 6th May, Kingspan Stadium (5.15pm kick-off, live on BBC NI):
(15-9): C Gilroy, A Trimble (Capt), L Marshall, S McCloskey, C Piutau, P Jackson, R Pienaar;
(1-8): A Warwick, R Herring, R Ah You, K Treadwell, A O’Connor, R Diack, S Reidy, R Wilson;
Replacements (16-23): J Andrew, K McCall, Ricky Lutton, C Henry, N Timoney, P Marshall, P Nelson, J Stockdale.
1 May 2017