Ulster v Dragons (Fri)

Ruan Pienaar missed Ulster's last two games through illness

Ruan Pienaar missed Ulster’s last two games through illness

Ruan Pienaar returns to the Ulster team after illness for Friday’s Pro12 game with the Dragons at Kingspan Stadium.

Jacob Stockdale makes his first start for the province after coming on as a replacement against Treviso last week.

Wales wing Hallam Amos is released from Six Nations duty to start for the Dragons, who make six changes to the team that beat Leinster last Friday.

On-loan flanker Ben White starts and Ed Jackson is at number eight, plus hooker Elliot Dee replaces Thomas Rhys Thomas.

South African lock Rynard Landman will captain the Welsh region, while fly-half Angus O’Brien replaces Jason Tovey after he sustained a back spasm in training.

Dragons also start scrum-half Charlie Davies over Sarel Pretorius, who is among the replacements.

Paddy Jackson, part of Ireland’s training squad for the Six Nations game with Wales, is named on Ulster’s bench.

The other changes to the Ulster side which won in Italy see Robbie Diack and Peter Browne come into the line-up, but Nick Williams is among the replacements.

Stockdale is named on the hosts’ left wing after coming on to make his debut in the closing stages of the victory over Treviso.

With limited training time this week due to a slight thigh injury, Rory Scholes is on the bench and will provide cover for the back three.

Meanwhile in the second row, Browne will partner Alan O’Connor in the second row as Franco van der Merwe, who has started 16 of Ulster’s 18 games this season, is given a well-earned rest.

Diack joins Sean Reidy and Roger Wilson in the back row for a match which could see Ulster go top of the table if they can secure a success over their visitors.

Ulster: L Ludik; C Gilroy, D Cave, S Olding, J Stockdale; I Humphreys, R Pienaar; C Black, R Herring (capt), R Lutton; A O’Connor, P Browne; R Diack, S Reidy, R Wilson.

Replacements: J Andrew, K McCall, B Ross, C Ross, N Williams, P Marshall, P Jackson, R Scholes.

Dragons: C Meyer, A Hewitt, A Hughes, A Warren, H Amos, A O’Brien, C Davies; P Price, E Dee, B Harris, M Screech, R Landman (c), B White, N Cudd, E Jackson.

Replacements: R Buckley, B Stankovich, S Knight, C Hill, J Benjamin, S Pretorius, G R Jones, N Scott.

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