Defeats to La Rochelle and Wasps haven’t exactly served as ideal preparation, but back rower Billy Holland isn’t too worried.
“I suppose we’ve been trying different things, that’s the nature of pre-season,” he said.
“We’ve been trying, different combinations, line-out wise, scrum wise things like that. That’s not making excuses but this weekend we need to deliver a much improved performance.”
Holland reverts to the second row this weekend having occupied the number 6 berth against La Rochelle and Wasps, while Tomás O’Leary — named in the Munster squad following his shock exclusion from Ireland’s World Cup travelling party — is omitted from the 22.
Ulster are planning to roll out their New Zealand utility back Jared Payne for the Pro12 League clash against the Cardiff Blues at Ravenhill on September 16.
The talented all-rounder from the Auckland Blues signed a three-year deal last March and is due to arrive in the province during the first week of September.
“We are expecting Jared in just over a week’s time and after being assessed by our medics, I would imagine he will be available to play more or less immediately,” said coach Brian McLaughlin.