Best back as Ulster make changes

Ireland’s most-capped hooker, Rory Best, will be back in familiar territory when he captains Ulster against Italian side Zebre this evening at a packed Kingspan Stadium.

Best returns to action after his rest period as part of Ireland’s Player Management Programme and the 32-year-old, who has made 77 appearances for Ireland, leads a side showing eight changes from the side that drew 32-32 with Scarlets last week.

Behind the scrum, and with Jared Payne sidelined for two weeks with a hip injury, Darren Cave returns to partner Luke Marshall in a new midfield partnership while interim head coach Les Kiss has named Ricky Andrew at full-back with Andrew Trimble and Craig Gilroy on the wings.

New South African lock, Franco van der Merwe, is rested to allow Lewis Stevenson partner Dan Tuohy at lock while Nick Williams comes in at number eight in place of Roger Wilson. Ruaidhrí Murphy, the off-season signing from the Brumbies, is named on a very strong bench and is certain to make his Pro12 debut.

Elsewhere, Wiehahn Herbst will run out in front of a packed audience for the first time in a competitive game, the 26-year-old tight-head prop joining the province from the Sharks and playing at Ravenhill seven years after doing so for South Africa in the Junior World Cup.

ULSTER: R Andrew; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy; I Humphreys, P Marshall; A Warwick, R Best (capt), W Herbst, L Stevenson, D Tuohy, R Diack, C Henry, N Williams.

Replacements: R Herring, R Murphy, B Ross, F van der Merwe, R Wilson, M Heaney, S Olding, L Ludik.

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