Ulster scrum-half John Cooney has returned from injury to be named in their starting line-up for their United Rugby Championship match against Leinster at the RDS Arena on Saturday (8pm).
The former Leinster half-back is named in the run-on team for the first time since he sustained a hamstring strain against the Glasgow Warriors in the opening game of the season.
Cooney is one of six changes to the team that lost to Connacht before the international break, although Dan McFarland’s hand has been forced with regard to some of those alterations.
Winger Robert Baloucoune and tighthead prop Tom O’Toole are unavailable having featured for Ireland against Argentina last week and so drop out of the squad altogether, although openside flanker Nick Timoney does start despite also coming on from the bench against Los Pumas.
In the backs, Mike Lowry is brought into the starting team at full-back for Baloucoune, with Ethan McIlroy shifting to the wing, while Cooney replaces impressive teenager Nathan Doak at scrum-half.
Up front, the props both change as Andrew Warwick and Marty Moore rotate in for Eric O’Sullivan and O’Toole respectively, while Sam Carter comes into the second row ahead of the injured Iain Henderson.
The final change is made in the back row as Greg Jones gets the start at blindside flanker in place of Matty Rea, with Alan O’Connor captaining the side from the second row.
There’s the potential of a debut for development hooker Tom Stewart from the bench, while there could also be first appearances of the season for Angus Curtis and Rob Lyttle if they’re called upon.
Meanwhile, Leinster have named a strong side that includes Ireland squad members Robbie Henshaw, Ciarán Frawley, Jordan Larmour and Tadhg Furlong, with Harry Byrne in reserve to call upon from the bench.
Ulster team to face Leinster
15. Mike Lowry; 14. Craig Gilroy, 13. James Hume, 12. Stuart McCloskey, 11. Ethan McIlroy; 10. Billy Burns, 9. John Cooney; 1. Andrew Warwick, 2. Rob Herring, 3. Marty Moore; 4. Alan O’Connor (captain), 5. Sam Carter; 6. Greg Jones, 7. Nick Timoney, 8. David McCann.
Replacements: 16. Tom Stewart, 17. Eric O’Sullivan, 18. Ross Kane, 19. Mick Kearney, 20. Marcus Rea, 21. Nathan Doak, 22. Angus Curtis, 23. Rob Lyttle.
15. Jimmy O’Brien; 14. Adam Byrne, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Ciarán Frawley, 11. Jordan Larmour; 10. Ross Byrne, 9. Luke McGrath (captain); 1. Ed Byrne, 2. James Tracy, 3. Tadhg Furlong; 4. Ross Molony, 5. Devin Toner; 6. Dan Leavy, 7. Scott Penny, 8. Rhys Ruddock.
Replacements: 16. Seán Cronin, 17. Peter Dooley, 18. Vakh Abdaladze, 19. Max Deegan, 20. Will Connors, 21. Nick McCarthy, 22. Harry Byrne, 23. Tommy O’Brien.