Academy back row Greg Jones and South African prop Schalk van der Merwe will make their first Ulster starts after being selected to face the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Friday evening.

The pair made their debuts as replacements in last weekend's Guinness PRO14 win against Benetton at Kingspan Stadium. 

Irish internationals Rory Best, Stuart McCloskey and Sean Reidy return to the squad after helping Ireland to an unbeaten November Series, with the latter two selected in Les Kiss' starting XV. 

Paul Marshall, who won his 200th cap last week, will start at scrumhalf, while Christian Lealiifano reverts to flyhalf and retains the captaincy duties. 

McCloskey will partner Tommy Bowe in midfield and Craig Gilroy, Louis Ludik and Charles Piutau will form a potent back three combination. 

The only change in the front five sees van der Merwe included, as John Andrew, Ross Kane, Alan O'Connor and Kieran Treadwell retain their places within the team. Jones and Reidy will join Nick Timoney in the back row.

Ulster: S van der Merwe, J Andrew, R Kane, A O'Connor, K Treadwell, G Jones, S Reidy, N Timoney;(9-15): P Marshall, C Lealiifano; L Ludik, S McCloskey, T Bowe, C Gilroy, C Piutau.

Replacements: R Best, C Black, A Warwick, M Dalton, C Henry, J Cooney, P Nelson, A Trimble.