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Rory Best will not take up captaincy for 200th appearance as Ulster make six changes

 

Rory Best will earn his 200th Ulster appearance on Saturday evening when the province take on Leinster, but he won't take over captaincy duty as Iain Henderson holds on to his leading role.

Best makes his first start of the season in the Guinness PRO14 clash with Leinster at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 6.30pm) while Aaron Cairns makes his first senior start at scrum-half while Jonny Stewart is in line for his debut from the bench.

In all, Ulster make six changes to the team that lost in France. Wiehahn Herbst is out with a calf injury as Rob Herring and Kieran Treadwell drop out to the bench. Rodney Ah You slots in beside Best at tight-head and Jean Deysel also returns.

Jacob Stockdale and Luke Marshall come back in to the starting line-up as Paul Marshall, Darren Cave and Andrew Trimble drop out. John Cooney misses out after taking a knock to his chest, coming on as a replacement on Sunday.

Alongside Best and Ah You Callum Black completes the front row.

Captain Henderson shifts from flanker to lock, with Alan O'Connor retaining his place in the second row.

Jean Deysel, who missed last week's Champions Cup outing due to injury, returns at number 8, with flankers Sean Reidy and Chris Henry selected as the other loose forwards.

Ballynahinch RFC clubman Cairns is named at scrum-half and will be partnered at half-back by Australian international Christian Lealiifano.

The Irish-capped duo of Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall are selected in midfield, with Jacob Stockdale, Tommy Bowe and Charles Piutau making up a potent looking back three.

Alongside Stewart, fit-again Louis Ludik and Peter Nelson provide the additional backline cover while Rob Herring, Andy Warwick, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell and Robbie Diack will offer the backup forward options.

Ulster Rugby team to play Leinster

(1-8): Callum Black, Rory Best, Rodney Ah You, Alan O'Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt), Sean Reidy, Chris Henry, Jean Deysel;

(9-15): Aaron Cairns, Christian Lealiifano, Jacob Stockdale, Stuart McCloskey, Luke Marshall, Tommy Bowe, Charles Piutau.

Replacements (16-23): Rob Herring, Andy Warwick, Ross Kane, Kieran Treadwell, Robbie Diack, Jonny Stewart, Peter Nelson, Louis Ludik.

Unavailable for selection

Peter Browne, Marcell Coetzee, John Cooney, Wiehahn Herbst, Paul Marshall, Kyle McCall, Caleb Montgomery, Jack Owens, Jared Payne, Dave Shanahan, Nick Timoney

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