Brian McLaughlin has made five personnel changes and one positional switch to his team for the away clash with Treviso on Saturday.
Brian McLaughlin has made five personnel changes and one positional switch to his starting team for the away clash with Treviso on Saturday.
Ulster have been boosted by Johann Muller (calf) and Darren Cave (foot) returning to action after two months on the sidelines. Muller has not featured since the Heineken Cup clash with Clermont on January 21, while outside centre Cave has been unavailable since the previous week against Leicester.
Ian Humphreys has been recalled to the starting XV so Ruan Pienaar switches back to scrum-half at the expense of Paul Marshall. Cave will partner Paddy Wallace at centre, while the back three of Stefan Terblanche, Craig Gilroy and Adam D'Arcy is unchanged from the last outing against Edinbugh.
Up front, Tom Court has returned from international duty and will join Andi Kyriacou and John Afoa in the front-row, with Muller partnering Dan Tuohy in the engine room once again. Pedrie Wannenburg has been ruled out by illness so the back-row is made up by Chris Henry, Willie Faloon and Robbie Diack.
“The players are feeling rejuvenated after a few weeks off. We are into the final phase of the season now and all the games are vital so it's important they feel fresh. We want to claim a playoff spot in the PRO12 and we also have Europe on the horizon so it's easy to get the players motivated,” said McLaughlin.
The break between matches has also provided Cave and Muller with time to overcome thir respective injuries and the boss is delighted to have them back.
“Johann is a superb leader and it's always great to have him available. He is a great lineout forward and he will lift others around him with his presence,” he continued.
“We felt that Darren deserved a chance to come back in and show what he can do because he was playing really well before the injury. We are very strong in the centres and Ian (Whitten) and Nevin (Spence) have done a tremendous job over the past couple of months so it was a tough decision.”
Meanwhile, Treviso welcome back their Six Nations internationals with centre Gonzalo Garcia and half-backs Kristopher Burton and Edoardo Gori bolstering the backline.
Up front, loose forwards Robert Barbieri and Alessandro Zanni as well as front rowers Lorenzo Cittadini and Michele Rizzo return to the starting XV.
Form: Benetton Treviso are without a win in 2012, slipping to seven straight defeats in all competitions since the turn of the New Year. The Ulstermen's record against Italian opponents in all competitions is won 13, lost 1. Treviso beat Ulster 23-12 at Ravenhill in round six of the RaboDirect PRO12 and are going for a first ever season's double over a non-Italian opponent. Ulster's only defeat in their last six PRO12 encounters was 14-21 against Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park on 17 February. Ulster have won just once on the road in the tournament since September: 42-20 over Edinburgh at Murrayfield on 6 January.
Treviso: 15 Brendan Williams, 14 Tommaso Iannone, 13 Alberto Sgarbi, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Ludovico Nitoglia, 10 Kristopher Burton, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Manoa Vosawai, 5 Corniel Van Zyl, 4 Antonio Pavanello (c), 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Enrico Ceccato, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Franco Sbaraglini, 17 Matteo Muccignat, 18 Ignacio Fernandez Rouyet, 19 Valerio BernabÃ², 20 Francesco Minto, 21 Gonzalo PadrÃ², 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 Alberto Di Bernardo.
Ulster: 15 Adam D'Arcy, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Stefan Terblanche, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Chris Henry, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (capt), 3 John Afoa, 2 Andi Kyriacou, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Paddy McAllister, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Niall McComb, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Nevin Spence.
Date: Saturday, March 24
Kick-off: 16:15 (15:15 GMT)
Venue: Stadio Monigo
Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU)
Assistant referees: Carlo Damasco, Alan Falzone (both FIR)
Citing commissioner: Achille Reali (FIR)
TMO: Stefano Marrama (FIR)