Ulster get a major boost as Treadwell is released for trip to South Africa
Ulster have named their 25-player panel that arrived in Port Elizabeth yesterday with the most notable inclusion seeing Kieran Treadwell being released by Ireland to make the trip to the southern hemisphere.
Second row Treadwell is one of six Ulster players in Joe Schmidt's squad for Ireland's three autumn internationals but is the only one who will spend the week with his province for their first PRO14 visit to South Africa to take on the Southern Kings.
Director of Rugby Les Kiss will be eagerly seeking an appropriate response from his players after last Saturday's hugely disappointing display against Leinster, which was Ulster's second PRO14 reverse of the season and their third overall if the European loss at La Rochelle is counted - which also actually resulted in the province racking up back-to-back defeats.
Kiss knows there can be no excuses against the Kings, who are rooted to the bottom of the Conference B table and have not won a game or, indeed, registered a point after seven outings.
Ulster are boosted by the return to fitness of scrum-half John Cooney, though - with Paul Marshall still unavailable - it is also notable that Aaron Cairns has been omitted.
Cairns made his first start against Leinster with Academy scrum-half Jonny Stewart acting as back-up and, interestingly, Kiss has opted to go for Stewart to bench again.
Prop Rodney Ah You and No.8 Jean Deysel are also missing but this is due to injuries both picked up in the Leinster game.
South African Schalk van der Merwe has made the journey home - along with fellow countrymen Robbie Diack, Louis Ludik and Wiehahn Herbst - and the prop could make his senior debut against his former side.
Elsewhere, centre Darren Cave should make his 198th appearance for Ulster while Craig Gilroy could hit 150 caps if involved.
Kiss is certainly able to draw on plenty of experience within the panel, with five players - Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Diack, Chris Henry and Cave -already having played over 150 games for the province.
With Rob Herring retained by Ireland, John Andrew should be starting at hooker on Saturday at the Wolfson Stadium - a smaller venue than the Kings' normal home at the 46,000-seater Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium - with Adam McBurney acting as cover and hoping to make a second senior appearance.
Ulster squad for Southern Kings: Backs (11): T Bowe, D Cave, J Cooney, C Gilroy, C Leali'ifano, L Ludik, L Marshall, P Nelson, C Piutau, J Stewart, A Trimble.
Forwards (14): J Andrew, C Black, R Diack, C Henry, W Herbst, R Kane, A McBurney, A O'Connor, M Rea, S Reidy, C Ross, K Treadwell, S Van der Merwe, A Warwick.
Southern Kings vs Ulster
Guinness Pro14 Championship:
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Sat, 3.30pm