Andrew Trimble comeback put back for a week as Stockdale steps up
Ulster captain Andrew Trimble's return to provincial action has been delayed by at least another week after the winger failed to come through training ahead of tonight's festive interpro with PRO12 champions Connacht.
The 32-year-old has been struggling with a ligament problem in his foot since taking on Australia with the Ireland team last month.
He had taken some part in Wednesday's session, and been expected to regain his place in the back-three alongside Jacob Stockdale and Charles Piutau, but Louis Ludik will instead go again on the wing.
With Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall retained in the midfield, and Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson teaming up at half-back, it means that Stockdale's promotion to the starting side in place of Tommy Bowe is the only change to the backline that lost to Clermont in the Auvergne just last Sunday.
With the short turnaround, there has, however, been more rotation in the pack where five changes have been made.
"It is what it is," said Les Kiss of the preparation that has been further impacted by an Ireland training camp at the beginning of this week.
"You don't get 'ideally' in this game and the conversations between myself and Joe (Schmidt, the Ireland coach) are solid.
"Everyone was informed early and we tried to work around it and make sure we had the best prep for the week.
"You can't account for the injuries but you've just got to bend with it.
"It's a case of being able to manage what squad you've got.
"It's always challenging but we knew it was going to be like this.
"There is some rotation, managing the players is part of the process."
Injuries to Kyle McCall and Pete Browne have necessitated two of the changes.
McCall is replaced by Andrew Warwick at loosehead, with Callum Black coming onto the bench, while there is an all new second-row.
Iain Henderson is moved up from the back-row where he joins Kieran Treadwell in the engine room with Franco van der Merwe dropping to the bench.
Warwick is joined in the front-row by Rory Best - who, in the absence of Trimble, will again skipper the side - and Rodney Ah You. The burly tight-head takes the place of Wiehahn Herbst and will surely be out to impress against his old team.
In the back-row, Sean Reidy has earned a break and will be among the substitutes with Roger Wilson making his own comeback from injury in the number eight jersey.
Clive Ross is the man to take Henderson's position at blindside flanker.