Lock Iain Henderson will captain Ulster Rugby in his first game for the Irish province this season as they travel to fellow Heineken Champions Cup side Connacht Rugby in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday.
Henderson, who toured with the British and Irish Lions for a second time this summer, will be hoping to guide league leaders Ulster to a fifth consecutive domestic win. Wing Robert Baloucoune and centre Stuart McCloskey also return for Ulster, with Eric O’Sullivan starting at loosehead prop.
As for Connacht, scrum-half Kieran Marmion, centre Tom Daly and flanker Eoghan Masterson come in as the only changes to the side who lost to Munster Rugby last weekend.
Two-time European champions Munster also face off against a fellow Heineken Champions Cup side on Saturday as they make the trip to Ospreys.
Scrum-half Conor Murray, centre Damian de Allende and back-row forward John Hodnett could make their first Munster appearances of the season from the bench, while Ospreys summer signing Jack Regan is among the hosts’ substitutes.
Elsewhere in the United Rugby Championship, fly-half Jarrod Evans makes a timely return from injury as Cardiff Rugby entertain Dragons at Cardiff Arms Park.
Who are you looking forward to see in action? 🏉 pic.twitter.com/o82ALLr648
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) October 22, 2021
There are two all-Heineken Champions Cup match-ups in the Gallagher Premiership on Saturday as table-toppers Leicester Tigers host Sale Sharks and second-placed Harlequins welcome Bath Rugby.
Ben Youngs returns at scrum-half for Leicester, while lock Lood de Jager, a World Cup winner with South Africa, is back in the Sale starting XV.
Quins, meanwhile, have made three changes to their starting team, recalling prop Will Collier, flanker Tom Lawday and winger Louis Lynagh. Lock Charlie Ewels returns to captain a Bath side looking to bounce back from last weekend’s drubbing by Saracens.
2020 Heineken Champions Cup winners Exeter Chiefs have brought in hooker Jack Yeandle, fly-half Joe Simmonds and winger Tom O’Flaherty for their home clash with EPCR Challenge Cup outfit London Irish.
Saturday’s TOP 14 action sees Racing 92 welcome Montpellier Hérault Rugby, before last season’s Heineken Champions Cup winners, Stade Toulousain, entertain Castres Olympique.
Stade Français Paris are at home to Lyon, while Heineken Champions Cup heavyweights Union Bordeaux-Bègles and ASM Clermont Auvergne host USAP and Section Paloise respectively.
Sunday’s domestic games see two-time European champions Wasps travel to Saracens in the Gallagher Premiership and last season’s Heineken Champions Cup finalists, Stade Rochelais, play host to RC Toulon in the TOP 14.