Duane Vermeulen will pack down for Ulster against a Sharks outfit looking to secure a home playoff in Friday’s crucial Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash.
Vermeulen is down to start at No 8 for the Irish, alongside Marcus Rea at blindside flank, with Nick Timoney given the nod as opensider.
The starting front row has one change from Ulster’s recent victory over Edinburgh. SA-born Rob Herring is named at hooker with Andrew Warwick at loosehead prop, with Tom O’Toole coming in at tighthead.
Iain Henderson will lead the team from the second row and will partner Alan O’Connor, who returns to the starting XV.
Mike Lowry, Rob Baloucoune and Ethan McIlroy will form the starting back three, Stuart McCloskey has recovered from injury to partner James Hume in the centres. Scrumhalf John Cooney is one match away from 100 appearances for Ulster as he will partner flyhalf Billy Burns.
Ulster – 15 Mike Lowry, 14 Rob Baloucoune, 13 James Hume, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Ethan McIlroy, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Nick Timoney, 6 Marcus Rea, 5 Iain Henderson (c), 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andrew Warwick.
Subs: 16 John Andrew, 17 Eric O’Sullivan, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Matty Rea, 21 Nathan Doak, 22 Stewart Moore, 23 Rob Lyttle.