Stuart McCloskey will make his 100th Ulster appearance in Friday’s Guinness PRO14 encounter against Ospreys at Morganstone Brewery Field (7.35pm).
The 26-year-old centre made his debut against Dragons in February 2014 and has been a regular in the side since then, as evidenced by his tally of 17 starts in the current campaign.
Meanwhile, the pack has received a boost with the return of Iain Henderson from injury, and he will partner captain Alan O’Connor in the second row.
Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy prop Eric O’Sullivan, who has played in 18 of Ulster’s 20 games so far this season, Rob Herring and Marty Moore complete the tight five. Clive Ross, starting for the first time this season, is joined in the back row by Nick Timoney and Jordi Murphy. The latter has been released by the Ireland coaching team.
Scrumhalf John Cooney is another to be discharged from international duty and he will partner Michel Lowry at half back. It will be Lowry’s first start in the flyhalf berth.
McCloskey will combine with Darren Cave in midfield and together they boast 319 Ulster caps. Angus Kernohan, Louis Ludik and Peter Nelson are named in the back three.
The forward replacements are John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell and Sean Reidy, while the backline cover will be provided by Dave Shanahan, James Hume and Rob Lyttle.
Ulster team to play Ospreys, Guinness PRO14, Friday 15th February, Morganstone Brewery Field (7.35pm):
(15-9): P Nelson; A Kernohan, D Cave, S McCloskey, L Ludik; M Lowry, J Cooney;
(1-8): E O’Sullivan, R Herring, M Moore, A O’Connor (captain), I Henderson, C Ross, J Murphy, N Timoney;
Replacements (16-23): J Andrew, A Warwick, T O’Toole, K Treadwell, S Reidy, D Shanahan, J Hume, R Lyttle.