Ulster have been boosted by the return of a number of key players to the match day 23 for Friday’s vital RaboDirect PRO12 game against Scarlets at Ravenhill (kick off 7.05pm).
Brian McLaughlin has made five changes in total to his starting team, including four in the pack. Stephen Ferris, Rory Best, Craig Gilroy and Chris Henry are start, having been rested for last weekend’s defeat in Glasgow.
The Ulster coach can also call on prop John Afoa who has returned from New Zealand. The All Black replaces Declan Fitzpatrick who has been ruled out after suffering a neck injury during a scrum last week against Glasgow.
Best’s inclusion at hooker sees Andi Kyriacou drop out of the match day squad, as Nigel Brady retains his place on the bench. Ferris and Henry join Pedrie Wannenburg an experienced back row.
Craig Gilroy is named on the left wing in place of Scottish international Simon Danielli, who misses out on a squad place. The backs remain otherwise unchanged but Ruan Pienaar is named on the bench, despite not being named in the preliminary squad. The scrumhalf has been ruled out since picking up a hamstring injury against the Scarlets at the end of October.
Ulster will find comfort in returning to Ravenhill this week, where they have lost only once in their last 12 encounters. Scarlets are one of the form teams in Europe at present, and are undefeated in their last eight matches in all competitions since their 10-20 loss in Treviso on 1st October.
Scarlets won 24-17 at Parc y Scarlets when the two teams met in the RaboDirect PRO12 on 29th October, but the Welshmen have not won in Ireland since a trip to Connacht on 9 January 2009.
There are still tickets available for Friday’s game. They can be bought online at www.ulsterrugby.com or by calling the ticket office on 02890493222 (ticketing option). Alternatively, you can pay at the gate on match night.
(15-9): A D’Arcy; A Trimble, D Cave, N Spence, C Gilroy; I Humphreys, P Marshall;
(1-8): T Court, R Best, J Afoa, J Muller (capt), D Tuohy, S Ferris, C Henry, P Wannenburg;
Replacements (16-23): N Brady, P McAllister, A Macklin, L Stevenson, R Diack, R Pienaar, P Jackson, I Whitten
Unavailable due to injury: Jared Payne (achilles), Declan Fitzpatrick (neck), Paddy Wallace (thumb)