Stuart McCloskey has recovered from a groin injury to start Ulster’s crucial final home game in the URC against a Sharks side featuring a clutch of Springbok stars, including World Cup winning captain Siya Kolisi.
om O’Toole is also back in the front row after suspension as Ulster try to stave off the late Sharks’ play-off burst in their bid to secure at least a home quarter-final, and depending on other results this weekend, a home semi-final also.
Iain Henderson and Duane Vermuelen, Ulster’s own Springbok World Cup winner, will beef up the pack as Dan McFarland’s side seek to extend their season into another month.
Ulster currently lie in fifth while Sharks are third.
Ulster - Mike Lowry; Rob Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, John Cooney; Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen. Replacements: John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Kieran Treadwell, Matty Rea, Nathan Doak, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle.
Sharks - Aphelele Fassi; Werner Kok, Lukhanyo Am, Marius Louw, Makazole Mapimpi; Curwin Bosch, Jaden Hendrikse; Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Thomas du Toit (c), Ruben van Heerden, Reniel Hugo, Siya Kolisi, Henco Venter, Phepsi Buthelezi. Replacements - Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Khutha Mchunu, Hyron Andrews, Jeandre Labuschagne, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Grant Williams, Boeta Chamberlain.
Ulster v Cell C Sharks, United Rugby Championship Round 18, Friday 20 May at Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm kick-off, live on BBC NI, SuperSport, Premier Sports, TG4 & URC TV