Rory Best returns to UIster side

He captains the team on Friday against Cardiff Blues

Rory Best returns to UIster side

Ulster's Rory Best Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Camersport/Kevin Barnes

Les Kiss has named a strong side for the visit of Cardiff Blues to Kingspan Stadium on Friday night.

Rory Best returns to provincial action and he will lead the side from hooker as regular captains Rob Herring and Andrew Trimble are both named on the bench. The latter makes a welcome return having recovered from a hand injury sustained against Treviso last month.

Joining them on the bench is academy back row Nick Timoney, who will make his senior debut if called upon by Kiss. The 21-year-old has produced notable displays for Queen's University RFC, Ulster A and Ireland 7s over the past couple of seasons.

There are two other personnel changes to the starting XV that defeated Dragons 17-27 a fortnight ago, with Roger Wilson and Paddy Jackson also called in by Kiss.

Best is the only new face in the front five, with Andy Warwick, Wiehahn Herbst, Kieran Treadwell and Al O'Connor all retained from the Dragons victory. Wilson's inclusion at number 8 means that Sean Reidy will move to the openside flanker berth, while Iain Henderson will again start at 6.

Jackson, who made an impressive appearance as a replacement two weeks ago, will renew his half-back partnership with Ruan Pienaar. Stuart Olding and Luke Marshall are selected in midfield and the back three of Craig Gilroy, Charles Piutau and Jared Payne is unchanged.

Callum Black, Rodney Ah You and Robbie Diack will join Herring and Timoney as forward replacements on the bench, while Trimble, Paul Marshall and Jacob Stockdale are the backline options.

Ulster team and replacements to play Cardiff Blues:

(15-9): Jared Payne, Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall, Stuart Olding, Charles Piutau, Paddy Jackson, Ruan Pienaar.

(1-8): Andrew Warwick, Rory Best (capt), Wiehahn Herbst, Kieran Treadwell, Al O'Connor, Iain Henderson, Sean Reidy, Roger Wilson.

Replacements (16-23): Rob Herring, Callum Black, Rodney Ah You, Robbie Diack, Nick Timoney, Paul Marshall, Jacob Stockdale, Andrew Trimble.