Gibbes makes eight changes for first match at Ulster helm
Ulster have made eight changes to their team for tonight's visit of Southern Kings, which will be refereed by Joy Neville.
Alan O'Connor, a graduate of the Ulster Academy, will captain the side for the first time, in what is head coach Jono Gibbes' opening game in charge. Gibbes has named a much-changed line-up from the defeat to Wasps that proved to be Les Kiss's last match.
Four of those are enforced owing to Christian Leali'ifano's departure coupled with Iain Henderson, Jacob Stockdale and Rory Best's inclusion in Ireland's Six Nations panel. Gibbes has opted to make four more alterations to the line-up, dropping four players to the bench. Hooker Rob Herring provides cover from the bench, as do Ireland U-20 duo Matthew Dalton and Jonny Stewart, although there is no place in the panel for Jean Deysel.
Fly-half Johnny McPhillips, who has made four appearances as a replacement, will make his first senior start while Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy also return.