Alan O’Connor is set to make his 100th appearance for Ulster as he is named in the starting XV to take on Leinster in Friday’s Guinness PRO14 Round 8 clash at the RDS Arena (kick-off 7.35pm).
O’Connor will also captain the much-changed side from that which recorded a bonus-point victory against Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop last Friday.
In the back three, Rob Lyttle makes his return, this time to the full-back position. He will be joined by Craig Gilroy and Angus Kernohan on the right and left wings. Matt Faddes makes a positional switch to outside centre and will pair up with Angus Curtis in midfield. Bill Johnston will make his fourth start of the season at fly-half, and David Shanahan gets the starting berth at scrum-half.
In the pack, Andrew Warwick, Adam McBurney and Tom O’Toole make up the starting front row. In the second row, Alan O’Connor will be joined by his brother David, who will be making his first start for Ulster. Matthew Rea and Nick Timoney have been selected to start on the flanks, with Greg Jones completing the base of the scrum.
Three Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy prospects - Jack Regan, Azur Allison and Stewart Moore – are set to earn their first senior cap if called upon from the bench, as is sub-Academy back three talent, Ethan McIlroy. John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Ross Kane and Jonny Stewart are the additional replacements included in the match-day squad.
Ulster team to play Leinster, Guinness PRO14 Round 8, Friday 20 December at the RDS Arena (kick-off 7.35pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):
(15-9) Rob Lyttle, Craig Gilroy, Matt Faddes, Angus Curtis, Angus Kernohan, Bill Johnston, David Shanahan.
(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Adam McBurney, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, Alan O’Connor (Capt.), Matthew Rea, Nick Timoney, Greg Jones.
Replacements: John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Ross Kane, Jack Regan, Azur Allison, Jonny Stewart, Stewart Moore, Ethan McIlroy.