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Rory Best's first start of the season boosts Ulster but Henderson retains captaincy

The hooker will make his 200th Ulster appearance tomorrow.

Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

IN MAKING HIS first start of the season, Rory Best will tomorrow reach the landmark of 200 Ulster appearances but Les Kiss has retained Iain Henderson as his captain for the visit of Leinster.

Best came off the bench during last week’s Champions Cup defeat to La Rochelle but returns to the northern province’s starting XV for Saturday’s Guinness Pro14 derby at Kingspan Stadium [KO 6.30pm, Sky Sports and BBC NI].

Either side of Best, Rodney Ah You also comes into the team at tighthead, with Callum Black completing the Ulster front row. Henderson continues to captain the side from the second row, where he is joined by Alan O’Connor.

Jean Deysel, who missed last week’s defeat in France, has recovered from injury to complete the back row unit of Sean Reidy and Chris Henry.

While Christian Lealiifano has recovered from the hamstring knocked he sustained last week to start at out-half, John Cooney has failed to prove his fitness in time and Aaron Cairns is handed his first senior start.

Luke Marshall, who missed out on selection for Ireland’s November Tests squad, will have a point to prove, as will Tommy Bowe who is joined in the back three by Jacob Stockdale and Charles Piutau.

Saturday’s game is a sell-out with the round seven clash seeing the two provinces, who are locked on 23 points each, go head-to-head under the Ravenhill lights.

Ulster:

15. Charles Piutau
14. Tommy Bowe
13. Luke Marshall
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Christian Lealiifano
9. Aaron Cairns

1. Callum Black
2. Rory Best
3. Rodney Ah You
4. Alan O’Connor
5. Iain Henderson (captain)
6. Sean Reidy
7. Chris Henry
8. Jean Deysel

Replacements:

16. Rob Herring
17. Andy Warwick
18. Ross Kane
19. Kieran Treadwell
20. Robbie Diack
21. Jonny Stewart
22. Peter Nelson
23. Louis Ludik.

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Ryan Bailey

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