STEPHEN FERRIS won’t get the chance to help Ulster slay the Gwent Dragons tonight.
After training with the Ulster squad during the week, coach Mark Anscombe and his management team have decided not to risk him suffering an injury setback against the Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade (kick off 7.05pm)
Paul Marshall, Craig Gilroy and Lewis Stevenson have all been promoted to the starting XV.
Declan Fitzpatrick will go straight into team after recovering from a knee injury.
And Roger Wilson could also be in line for his first appearance after he was selected for the replacements bench.
Marshall’s inclusion at scrumhalf will see Ruan Pienaar move to flyhalf in place of Paddy Jackson who is among the replacements. Tommy Bowe will line out at fullback, with Jared Payne earning a well earned rest after playing in every minute of Ulster’s campaign to date. Gilroy is named on the left wing, with Andrew Trimble switching to the right flank, while Paddy Wallace and Darren Cave continue their impressive centre partnership.
Fitzpatrick replaces All Black John Afoa at tighthead prop and will join Rory Best and Tom Court in the front row. Lewis Stevenson has replaced the injured Johann Muller in the second row alongside Dan Tuohy. The back row remains unchanged from the one that lined out against Glasgow last week, although Chris Henry will have the added responsibility of captaining the side in Muller’s absence.
The decision has been made not to risk Stephen Ferris (back) despite him training earlier in the week.
Ulster continue to set the pace at the top of the PRO12 table, and still possess a 100% winning record in all competitions this season. The Ulstermen have won five of their last six fixtures with Welsh regions and have been victorious on their two visits to Wales so far this campaign.
However, they have just one victory at Rodney Parade in their last six attempts.
Ulster XV & replacements to face Dragons, RaboDirect PRO12, TONIGHT, 26th October, Rodney Parade (7.05pm): (15-9): T Bowe; A Trimble, D Cave, P Wallace, C Gilroy; R Pienaar, P Marshall; (1-8): T Court, R Best, D Fitzpatrick, L Stevenson, D Tuohy, I Henderson, C Henry (capt), N Williams; Replacements (16-23): N Brady, C Black, J Afoa, M McComish, R Wilson, P Jackson, L Marshall, J Payne.