Cardiff Blues return to the Arms Park for the second week having won four of their last five matches in all competitions.
They face an Ulster side whose only loss in their last five games was 15-19 in Clermont Auvergne in the European Cup on 21 January. The Ulstermen doubled their tally of away wins in this season’s RaboDirect PRO12 on their last trip, winning 42-20 at Edinburgh.
Ulster need to win to avoid a clean sweep of defeats in Wales this season and have won their last three clashes with the Blues including a 37-15 victory in Cardiff last season.
There are three changes in the backs as the Blues welcome back Lloyd Williams and Gavin Henson from the Six Nations squad and also Dan Parks who announced his international retirement earlier in the month. Henson starts at inside centre with Laulala still suffering from a hamstring strain picked up in the win over Connacht last Friday.
There are two changes in the backrow with Josh Navidi and Michael Paterson starting. Cory Hill makes his second RaboDirect start partnering Paul Tito in the second row. While Ryan Tyrell starts at hooker either side of John Yapp and Scott Andrews in the front row.
Speaking ahead of the match Justin Burnell said,
“I think Ulster’s threat comes from across the board.”
“They have recruited some exceptional South African and New Zealand forwards and have a very good half back pairing.”
“Pienaar is a key man for them and if there was a world ranking I certainly think he would be in the top three whether he was playing 9 or 10.”
“It is a massive challenge for us but important that we pick up points to get us to the play off stages.”
“The players and coaches certainly enjoyed being back at the Arms Park last weekend and we are fortunate that we have two great venues to play at. It was a great occasion.”
“Certain players hadn’t played there and were proud that they were given the opportunity. I hope we can secure the same result on Friday.”
The Blues will be selling tickets at the Arms Park ticket office, at the Angel Hotel entrance, priced at £15 for adults and £5 for under 16’s. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.cardiffblues.com or by calling the ticket office on 0845 345 1400.
15 Ben Blair 14 Richard Mustoe 13 Gavin Evans 12 Gavin Henson 11 Tom James 10 Dan Parks
9 Lloyd Williams
8 Xavier Rush 7 Josh Navidi 6 Michael Paterson 5 Paul Tito (c) 4 Cory Hill 3 Scott Andrews 2 Ryan Tyrell 1 John Yapp
16 T Rhys Thomas 17 Nathan Trevett 18 Ryan Harford 19 Maama Molitika 20 Martyn Williams 21 Richie Rees 22 Ceri Sweeney 23 Chris Czekaj
Not available due to injury:
Casey Laulala - hamstring
Fau Filise - shoulder
Dafydd Hewitt - hamstring
James Down - ankle
Andries Pretorius - knee
Deiniol Jones - shoulder