Dan McFarland has rotated his side for the trip to Parma to take on Conference A basement side, Zebre.
John Cooney, Matthew Rea, Kieran Treadwell and Matt Faddes are all left out of the match day 23 while Sean Reidy and Ian Madigan are named on the bench.
After two solid cameo appearances against Cardiff and Glasgow, Ethan McIlroy is set to make his first start in a senior jersey on the left wing. Against Cardiff, he was very good under the high ball in tricky conditions while he recorded 31m off two carries, including this run which showed great footwork:
The front row remains unchanged for Ulster, a combination of Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew and Marty Moore. Sam Carter and Alan O’Connor are in the second row while Marcell Coetzee will make his 50th Ulster appearance at eight, having joined in 2016. The South African battering ram starts along side Greg Jones and Jordi Murphy.
Alby Mathewson and Bill Johnston form a new half back partnership while Luke Marshall and Stewart Moore are in the centre. Michael Lowry and Craig Gilroy start alongside McIlroy in the back three.
Zebre have one win in their opening five matches – a shock home win over Ospreys two weeks ago. With exception to the 63-8 hammering against Leinster, their losses have all been ten points or less, including an unfortunate defeat to Scarlets in Wales last time out.
Out half Antonio Rizzi is highly rated and scored 18 of their 23 points in their sole victory this season. Last season they recorded three wins and finished fifth with the Ospreys the only side below them in the table.
Ulster should be winning this match. The last trip to the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi resulted in a defeat in 2017 and have a 4-2 record in this fixture. Ulster’s strength in depth has improved since those defeats in 2017 and 2016 and I’m expecting the side to make it a 6/6 start to the domestic season for the first time since 2012-13.
The FRU predicts: I think Ulster will scrape through the test of Zebre and come out with four points, extending the gap on third placed Ospreys in Conference A to 18 points.
|Michelangelo Biondelli||15||Michael Lowry|
|Pierre Bruno||14||Craig Gilroy|
|Giulio Bisegni||13||Luke Marshall|
|Enrico Lucchin||12||Stewart Moore|
|Gabriele Di Giulio||11||Ethan McIlroy|
|Antonio Rizzi||10||Bill Johnston|
|Josh Renton||9||Alby Mathewson|
|Andrea Lovotti||1||Eric O’Sullivan|
|Marco Manfredi||2||John Andrew|
|Eduardo Bello||3||Marty Moore|
|Leonard Krumov||4||Alan O’Connor|
|Ian Nagle||5||Sam Carter|
|Nardo Casolari||6||Greg Jones|
|Renato Giammarioli||7||Jordi Murphy|
|Lorenzo Masselli||8||Marcell Coetzee|
|Massimo Ceciliani||16||Adam McBurney|
|Riccardo Brugnara||17||Andrew Warwick|
|Alexandru Tarus||18||Gareth Milasinovich|
|Mick Kearney||19||David O’Connor|
|Antoine Kouassi Koffi||20||Sean Reidy|
|Nicolo Casilio||21||Dave Shanahan|
|Paolo Pescetto||22||Ian Madigan|
|Laloifi Junior Laloifi||23||Rob Lyttle|