James Hume, Robert Baloucoune and Michael Lowry are ready for Guinness Six Nations action, says Ulster assistant Dan Soper.

Ireland take on Wales in the championship on Saturday with Andy Farrell's first XV unlikely to stray too far from his autumn selections.

That means that two of Leinster pair Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose, and Connacht’s Bundee Aki are in prime position to fill the midfield berths.

Outside them, Hugo Keenan looks a certainty at full-back and Andrew Conway is fancied to retain a place on the wing.

With James Lowe out injured, Keith Earls and Jordan Larmour are options for Farrell, who will name the team on Thursday, while Baloucoune started the final game of the November series against Argentina.

But centre Hume and full-back Lowry have also forced their way into the debate after a series of stylish performances in the Heineken Champions Cup, which saw Ulster complete their pool phase with four wins from four.

New Zealander Soper believes that Hume, 23, with one cap to his name, and uncapped Lowry, also 23, have what it takes.

"I'm probably biased. I'd love to see them get an opportunity this weekend, it'd be class," he said.

"Did I see it when they were kids at school? They've always stood out, haven't they?

"They've always stood out as a wee bit ahead of the pack. They've always had that aspiration in the back of their mind, and I suppose I have too that they'd get that chance, hopefully it's this weekend.

"There's no doubt to get to the level they've got to - and even still to play Ulster Schools, Irish Schools - you need to have that bit of raw talent.

"But that alone doesn't get you into an international rugby squad.

"The great thing is the two of them are really coachable and they want to learn, as do a lot of guys in the squad.

James Hume (l) and Michael Lowry

"Michael and James have always had that and certainly they have matured into great young men with great potential that we're starting to see at the top level."

Meanwhile, 24-year-old Baloucoune, who was capped in the summer and the autumn, has matured even more this season, says the Kiwi, who is helping to prepare Ulster for Friday’s night’s rescheduled URC derby with Connacht.

"I think it's around confidence in his own ability [i been the biggest difference]," he added

"There's been no doubt about the raw athletic ability he has, but his learning of the game and his understanding of the game has really grown, and with that he's gained a lot of confidence.

"You see it both sides of the ball now, he's really confident.

Robert Baloucoune and Michael Lowry (r)

"He used to be a bit of a catch and tuck and run kind of guy, now his skills have come on so he's confident to throw passes and offloads - his offloading is exceptional.

"He just has a confidence as a rugby player and you see that now when he plays. His belief is up there with anyone. That's probably been the biggest growth I've seen from him."

Follow all of Ireland's Six Nations games via our live blogs on rte.ie/sport and on the RTÉ News App or listen to live radio coverage on RTÉ Radio 1. Watch live TV coverage of Ireland v Wales (5 February, 2.15pm) and England v Ireland (12 March, 4.45pm) on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player.