In the back’s Isaac Boss returns as scrum half, with Paul Marshall starting the match on the bench.
The pack see’s Declan Fitzpatrick replace an injured Tom Court at loose head. Ed O’Donoghue starts at No 4, with Dan Tuohy moving to the replacements.
Chris Henry will again captain the team.
Commenting on the Magners League clash, Ulster Coach Brian McLaughlin said:
Saturday night is going to be a really big game for us. It is one that we have got to turn up to, get our act together and play in front of our own fans at Ravenhill, to show them exactly what we are capable off.
Training has gone very well this week, despite the weather. We have been fortunate to get the use of the indoor facility at the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland at Jordanstown, so our sessions have be very productive.
We are really looking forward to the weekend because in the last two games we have not done ourselves justice; we have had disappointing displays against the Scarlets and Cardiff. We just want to get back to Ravenhill and play the way we can play, and play for our fans.
Ulster: (15-9) Jamie Smith, Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Paddy Wallace, Simon Danielli, Niall O’Connor Isaac Boss. (1-8) Declan Fitzpatrick, Rory Best, BJ Botha, Ed O’Donoghue, Ryan Caldwell, Stephen Ferris, David Pollock, Chris Henry. (16-22) Andi Kyriacou, Bryan Young, Dan Tuohy, Robbie Diack, Paul Marshall, Ian Whitten, Timoci Nagusa
Tickets are still available for Ulster v Cardiff Blues.
To purchase tickets for Ulster v Cardiff Blues, 3rd April, KO 7.30pm click here, or call the Ticket Line on 028 90 493 222 Option 2 or visit the Ticket Office at Ravenhill (Mon-Fri, 9am – 5pm.) Tickets are also available from Ulster Rugby ticket outlets province wide.
Bit of a mixed bag in selection there. Looking at the backs, they are about as attacking as they could get with the one exception of O’Connor at out half instead of my preference of Humphreys.
In truth it’s six of one half a dozen of another as far as these two are concerned. You get a bigger boot, better defence and a sublime pass with O’Connor and with Humphreys you get a quicker thinking player capable of exploiting broken play. I would have went with Humph as I don’t think we’re going to dominate up front.
Front row sees Decky as opposed to Young which is fair enough. Both have had a good enough season and I had Decky on the bench for his versatility.
I honestly would have benched Rory as I think he’s been brought back too quickly by Ireland and Ulster and I think his game time should have been managed better. While adrenalin may have got him through his first few appearances in the green shirt, I still don’t think he’s 100% match fit. The benefit of bringing on someone around the 60 minute mark with his experience and match reading ability shouldn’t be underestimated and I think he could have got Ulster out of a hole if required.
O’Donoghue and Tuohy have been far and away our best second row combination and I fail to see why this pairing have been broken up after only one poor performance against Glasgow, especially considering the subsequent displays. While Caldwell was unlucky to get carded last time out, he is still an enigma. One hundred percent effort but unfortunately just too clumsy in thought and deed.
I would always have Diack as my No. 8. I think he has fantastic hands and I would have benched Ferris (again not 100% in my opinion and a fantastic asset to bring on) and moved Henry to 6, but there you go.
Having said all that I think Ulster will shade it, but it will be tight.