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Herring returns among four changes to Ulster team for crunch Pro 14 clash with Edinburgh

Ireland hooker Rob Herring has been released to start for Ulster in Friday evening's crunch clash with Edinburgh as Jonno Gibbes makes four changes to his side.

Herring replaces John Andrew in the line-up while injured trio Charles Piutau, Rob Lyttle and Sean Reidy are replaced by Louis Ludik (full-back), Tommy Bowe (wing) and Jean Deysel (number eight). That means Nick Timoney will shift from eight to openside flanker.

Deysel comes in for only his ninth Ulster appearance since joining from the Sharks last summer. Bowe makes his first start since announcing he will retire at the end of the season. His last start came in the win over Harlequins on December 10.

With just three points separating Ulster in third and Edinburgh in fourth in the Conference B standings, Friday's game at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 7.35pm) will be another hugely important clash as both sides aim to book a place in the playoffs.

Ludik and the fit-again Bowe are straight swaps for fullback Piutau and left wing Lyttle, as they come in to join last week's Man of the Match Craig Gilroy in the back three.

The Irish international midfield partnership of Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall are retained, as are the half-back combination of John Cooney and Johnny McPhillips.

In the pack, Deysel will wear the number 8 jersey, with Nick Timoney shifting to openside flanker and Matty Rea continuing at blindside.

Andy Warwick and Wiehahn Herbst will scrum down either side of Herring in the front row, with Alan O'Connor captaining the side for the second game in succession alongside Kieran Treadwell at lock.

John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Rodney Ah You will provide the front row backup on the bench, with Matthew Dalton and Chris Henry the additional forward options.

Jonny Stewart, Darren Cave and David Busby will offer backline cover, with Busby in line to make his first appearance of the season if called upon.

Tickets for the crunch match are still available via ulsterrugby.com/buytickets.

Ulster Rugby team to play Edinburgh

(15-9): L Ludik; C Gilroy, L Marshall, S McCloskey, T Bowe; J McPhillips, J Cooney;

(1-8): A Warwick, R Herring, W Herbst, A O'Connor (Captain), K Treadwell, M Rea, N Timoney, J Deysel;

Replacements (16-23): J Andrew, K McCall, R Ah You, M Dalton, C Henry, J Stewart, D Cave, D Busby.

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