Ulster v Bordeaux: Injuries force Kiss to shuffle the pack
Les Kiss has named his match day squad for Ulster's concluding Champions Cup pool game, against Union Bordeaux Bègles, at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday (1.00pm).
Ulster's chances of progression to the knock-out stages are all but gone following a 31-19 defeat at the hands of Exeter Chiefs on Sunday and there are six personnel changes to the starting XV that lost at Sandy Park.
Four of the changes come in the tight five as the front row injury crisis continues, with Hughes Insurance Academy props Ross Kane and Tommy O'Hagan adding their names to the lengthy injury list.
Jonny Simpson will make his first start for the Province at tighthead prop, having earned three previous caps as a replacement. Andy Warwick will join Simpson in the front row and they will pack down alongside Ireland skipper Rory Best.
Elsewhere in the pack, Robbie Diack and Franco van der Merwe will start together in the second row for the first time, while the loose forward trio of Iain Henderson, Chris Henry and Sean Reidy is retained.
Dave Shanahan and Paddy Jackson are named as half back partners for the second consecutive week. Darren Cave, hugely impressive in Ulster A's 38-21 win over London Scottish last Friday night, is installed in the Ulster midfield alongside Stuart McCloskey.
Tommy Bowe returns to the starting lineup on the right wing, with Andrew Trimble selected on the left flank and Charles Piutau reverting to fullback.
Ricky Lutton is set to make his first appearance of the season after recovering from a series of injuries. He will provide forward cover along with John Andrew, Callum Black, Kieran Treadwell and Clive Ross. Paul Marshall, Brett Herron and Craig Gilroy are also included in the match day 23 for Saturday's game.
With only 3 defeats in their last 25 European outings in Belfast, Ulster will be hoping to continue its proud home record and kick-start their season ahead of a crucial block of Guinness PRO12 games.
Ulster team & replacements to play Union Bordeaux Bègles, Champions Cup, Saturday 21st January, Kingspan Stadium (1.00pm kick-off):
(15-9): C Piutau, T Bowe, D Cave, S McCloskey, A Trimble (captain), P Jackson, D Shanahan;
(1-8): A Warwick, R Best, J Simpson, R Diack, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, C Henry, S Reidy;
Replacements (16-23): J Andrew, C Black, R Lutton, K Treadwell, C Ross, P Marshall, B Herron, C Gilroy.
Belfast Telegraph Digital