Fitzpatrick misses out on 50th Euro cap
Justin Fitzpatrick will have to wait until next month to make his 50th Heineken Cup appearance after he was today omitted from Ulster's 22-man squad to face Neath/Swansea Ospreys at Ravenhill tomorrow night.
It was a tough call on Fitzpatrick, one of the few survivors of Ulster's European Cup winning side of 1999, who has been rested for the crucial upcoming Magners League clashes against Leinster and Munster.
Fitzpatrick's omission is one of seven changes to the side that crashed 48-17 to the Ospreys in the Liberty Stadium last Friday.
Most significantly, caretaker coach Steve Williams has named a new half-back partnership of Kieran Campbell and rising star Niall O'Connor, who replace Isaac Boss and Paddy Wallace respectively.
Declan Fitzpatrick comes into the front row at tighthead prop, with Byran Young switching from loosehead to fill the gap left by Justin Fitzpatrick.
Surprisingly, Rob Dewey returns in place of Paul Steinmetz at inside centre, while Ryan Caldwell starts ahead of Carlo Del Fava in the second row and Kieron Dawson comes in for David Pollock at openside flanker.
Meanwhile, Ulster have moved to ease their back row crisis by signing former Otago Highlanders No 8 Grant Webb until the end of the season.
Webb, 28, will arrive in Belfast next week and will be available to play for Ulster in the Magners League games against Leinster on Boxing Day at the RDS and against Munster at Ravenhill on January 4.
Webb will provide cover during the injury-enforced absence of Roger Wilson (thumb) and Stephen Ferris (knee), who have both been ruled out until mid-February.
A former New Zealand Under-21, Webb starred for the Highlanders in the Super 12, and faced the British and Irish Lions in the tour match in 2005.
ULSTER: B Cunningham; T Bowe, A Trimble, R Dewey, S Danielli; N O'Connor, K Campbell; B Young, R Best (capt), D Fitzpatrick, J Harrison, R Caldwell, N Best, K Dawson, M McCullough.
Replacements: T Court, M Miles, C Del Fava, D Pollock, I Boss, P Wallace, M McCrea.