If Ulster are to topple European Champions Leinster in their own back-yard they’ll have to do it the hard way.
British and Irish Lions flanker Stephen Ferris, centre Paddy Wallace, winger Andrew Trimble and prop Tom Court are all on a rest week at the request of the national management.
That means coach Brian McLaughlin must juggle his resources especially after preparation for the game was cut a day short but the delayed Stade Francais game last weekend.
Irish prop Bryan Young is likely to replace Court on the loose side, David Pollock takes over from Ferris in the back row.
Niall O’Connor is given a chance at out half and with last week’s midfield pairing side lined Ian Whitten and Darren Cave are reunited in the centre.
August 1999 was the last time Ulster beat Leinster in Dublin but assistant coach Neil Doak is hoping to confine that statistic to the history books on Boxing Day.
“Records are there to be broken but most teams find it hard to go to Dublin. Leinster don’t lose too many games at home but it would be nice to do the double over the European champions.
“We need to be at our best. They can be a bit off their best and still get away with wins,” commented Doak.