Ulster v Glasgow Warriors: Les Kiss given real lift by release of Ireland trio
Ulster have been boosted by the return of Paddy Jackson, Stuart McCloskey and Rob Herring from Ireland duty for the side's game against Glasgow Warriors in the PRO12.
Jackson, McCloskey and Herring all spent the early part of the week at Carton House as the national side prepare to take on France in their crunch Six Nations encounter at the Stade de France tomorrow but will be back in the colours of their province at the Kingspan Stadium this evening.
There is a return for another Irish international in the form of Chris Henry, who comes onto the bench after his shoulder injury.
Herring starts at hooker and again captains the side in the absence of Ireland skipper Rory Best, while McCloskey comes into the midfield alongside Darren Cave after starting last week's win over Dragons on the bench.
With Joe Schmidt continuing to opt for the versatility of Ian Madigan as his replacement out-half, last Friday's match-winner Jackson again finds himself available to take a place on Ulster's bench.
With Ian Humphreys suffering from the concussion that ended his outing at half-time in last week's win, Jackson will this time be backing up Sam Windsor, who makes his first senior start for the province.
The 28-year-old No.10 spent last season with Worcester Warriors but his time in Belfast has to date only brought appearances for Ulster's A side and Ballynahinch in the All-Ireland league. Now he will have the nerve-settling presence of Ruan Pienaar as his half-back partner.
Elsewhere in the backline, Louis Ludik's groin injury sees Stuart Olding move to full-back, with his 12 jersey filled by McCloskey, while Craig Gilroy and Jacob Stockdale continue on the wings.
Up front, it will be a memorable occasion for prop Callum Black who is the latest player to rack up a century of appearances for the province.
The loosehead, who turns 30 next month, also came to Ulster from Worcester, joining from the Aviva Premiership side in 2011.
Alongside the one-time Emerging Ireland player and Herring at the coal face will again be Ricky Lutton.
Alan O'Connor, off the back of another encouraging outing last time out, is joined in the engine room by Franco van der Merwe, who was rested last week.
Robbie Diack is over the effects of last week's suspected concussion to take his place in the back-row where he is again joined by Sean Reidy, with Nick Williams taking the place of Roger Wilson who drops to the bench.
John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Bronson Ross and Paul Marshall are also among the replacements.
After earning top spot with last week's win, Director of Rugby Les Kiss is hoping his side don't come back down to earth with a jolt when taking on last season's champions.
"The fact that they are champions is a massive warning for anyone who plays them. You don't do that without being good at a lot of things, even if the season hasn't panned out as well as they would have liked," he said of the side who currently sit eighth in the table, albeit with two games in hand.
"They know they have two to pick up so if they pick one up against us and one the following week and the two spares they are right back in the hunt. It would be a fool who would lower their guard and think they are gone."