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Published: 14:09 | 22/1/16

Ulster missing McCloskey, Pienaar and Best

Jared Payne to make his first home appearance of the season

Ulster will be without Stuart McCloskey, Ruan Pienaar and Rory Best for tomorrow’s crucial Champions Cup clash with Oyonnax at Kingspan Stadium.

Head coach Les Kiss has decided to give McCloskey a rest, Ireland captain Best is suffering from minor back tightness and is only fit for a place on the bench and Pienaar is out through illness.

Ulster need a bonus-point win to have any chance of making the last eight of the competition and their task is helped by the return of Darren Cave from a shoulder injury.

Cave will partner Luke Marshall in the centre, with Paul Marshall replacing the injured Pienaar at scrumhalf.

Paddy Jackson continues at 10, ahead of a back three of Andrew Trimble, Craig Gilroy and Jared Payne, who will make his first home appearance of the season.

Rob Herrings replaces Best at hooker and he will be joined in the front row by Kyle McCall and Ricky Lutton.

Alan O’Connor and Franco van der Merwe continue in the second row, while Robbie Diack and Sean Reidy will again join Nick Williams in the back row.

"It's great to have Darren (Cave) and Nick (Williams) back in the team,” said Les Kiss. “We welcomed Jared (Payne) back last week and that was pleasing for us too.

“With Rory (Best) on the bench it's another opportunity for Rob (Herring) to show what a great player and what a great leader he is. Ruan (Pienaar) has been struggling with illness all week so he is unavailable, but we know that Paul (Marshall) will come in and do a fantastic job for us."

Ulster XV (v Oyonnax):J Payne, A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, C Gilroy; P Jackson, P Marshall; K McCall, R Herring (capt), R Lutton; A O'Connor, F van der Merwe; R Diack, S Reidy, N Williams;

Replacements: R Best, C Black, B Ross, C Ross, R Wilson, D Shanahan, I Humphreys, R Scholes.

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