In the front-row Peter Dooley and Michael Bent continue in the side but are joined by Sean Cronin at hooker this week, while youngster Ryan Baird locks down beside Scott Fardy in the second-row as the latter once again captains the team.
Josh Murphy remains at blindside-flanker, with Will Connors coming in at openside and Max Deegan slots straight in at No 8 after returning to the Leinster camp.
Luke McGrath is selected at scrum-half and is joined in the half-back pairing by Harry Byrne, while Joe Tomane links-up with Jimmy O’Brien in the midfield.
James Lowe takes his place on the left-wing, with Dave Kearney on the right and Hugo Keenan retains his spot to finish off the starting line-up from full-back.
There is plenty of experience for Cullen to call upon from the bench with the likes of James Tracy, Rhys Ruddock, Jamison Gibson-Park and Fergus McFadden among the replacements.
Speaking ahead of the game centre O’Brien is wary of the challenge that the Warriors will pose and knows his side will need to be at their best to win.
“You’ve seen from the result that they got over in the RDS last year they’re not afraid to come over here. They’re going to relish it,” he said.
Leinster will be hoping to make it 13-wins in a row in the PRO14 on Friday and increase their lead at the top of Conference A, while the Warriors will be looking to upset the hosts and get a result against the league leaders.
Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.
15. Hugo Keenan (13)
14. Dave Kearney (147)
13. Jimmy O’Brien (16)
12. Joe Tomane (20)
11. James Lowe (42)
10. Harry Byrne (8)
9. Luke McGrath (122)
1. Peter Dooley (75)
2. Seán Cronin (180)
3. Michael Bent (134)
4. Ryan Baird (6)
5. Scott Fardy (57) (c)
6. Josh Murphy (31)
7. Will Connors (14)
8. Max Deegan (61)
16. James Tracy (107)
17. Michael Milne (7)
18. Jack Aungier (4)
19. Jack Dunne (6)
20. Rhys Ruddock (171)
21. Jamison Gibson-Park (87)
22. Ciarán Frawley (24)
23. Fergus McFadden (183)
Marcus Rea to start for Ulster v Ospreys
The 23-year-old – who was Player of the Match in his sole previous Ulster appearance as a replacement against Leinster in April 2019 – has been named at openside flanker. Marcus’s older brother Matty – Player of the Match in last weekend’s bonus point win over Benetton – is named alongside him at blindside, with Marcell Coetzee once again packing down at number eight.
Jack McGrath, Rob Herring and Marty Moore have been given the front row starting berths, and Alan O’Connor has been selected along with captain Iain Henderson in the second row.
Matt Faddes returns to the starting side on the right wing and will join Jacob Stockdale at full-back and Rob Lyttle on the left wing. Last week’s midfield duo of Stewart Moore and James Hume has been retained. Ian Madigan comes in to start at fly-half, pairing with John Cooney at scrum-half.
The coaching team has opted for a 6-2 bench split. Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Kieran Treadwell, Greg Jones and Sean Reidy provide the forward options, with David Shanahan and Louis Ludik offering back line cover.
Ulster team to play Ospreys Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 2, Saturday 10 October 2020, at Liberty Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm, live on Premier Sports):
(15-9) Jacob Stockdale, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Ian Madigan, John Cooney. (1-8) Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.) , Matthew Rea, Marcus Rea, Marcell Coetzee. Replacements: Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Kieran Treadwell, Greg Jones, David Shanahan, Louis Ludik, Sean Reidy.
Munster confirm COVID-19 case. Training suspended.
Munster Rugby have been assisting a senior player who has tested positive for Covid-19.
The latest PCR testing carried out on Monday at the HPC has returned a positive result for a player who is asymptomatic. To remove any doubt of a potential false positive the player will be retested tomorrow.
The individual, who was not part of the travelling group at the weekend, and six other players identified by Munster Rugby as potential close contacts, are currently self-isolating.
This approach of identifying possible close contacts is in line with the caution we have taken to this issue, these players may not be deemed close contacts by the HSE.
As a precautionary measure, the squad and academy will not train at the HPC today.
The HSE have been notified for contract tracing purposes.
Munster Rugby Head of Medical, Dr Jamie Kearns, said: “As an immediacy we are taking every precaution by standing down training today.
“We are going to complete another round of PCR testing tomorrow so that we can return to training on Thursday.
“Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of our players and staff, and we will continue to work closely with both the IRFU and HSE in this regard.”
Statement from Munster Rugby
Halaholo returns for Cardiff Blues season opener
Halaholo is reunited in midfield with Rey Lee-Lo, in a backline that includes six internationals.
Homegrown duo Jarrod Evans and Lloyd Williams combine at half back, while Matthew Morgan and Hallam Amos line-up in the back three alongside Josh Adams, who has been in scintillating form since joining the region, with seven tries in eight outings.
He partners Seb Davies in the second row, while academy graduates Corey Domachowski and Liam Belcher are included in the front row with Dmitri Arhip.
Shane Lewis-Hughes and James Botham, who both impressed in the victory over Ospreys on the final day of the 2019/20 campaign, are rewarded with starting spots, as the experienced Josh Turnbull is handed the number eight jersey.
John Mulvihill insists he’s picked the side based on form and merit but is expecting a tough task in Parma.
“I’m hopeful that we can take the form that we had against Ospreys into game one and certainly the selection of the team rewards the boys that played well that day,” said the head coach.
““We need to pick on form if we want to be consistent as a group. The coaches need to show consistency in picking players that put their hands up for selection.
“We’re all excited to get out there and to kick off the new season. We gained a lot from the two derbies we played in August, and the boys have been working hard on the training ground, so we want to see that come into fruition on Friday.
“We all know how tough it can be to visit Italy, and you need to travel there with the correct game-plan and mindset.
“Zebre are a team that can cause teams problems on their day, but we’re fully confident in our group. Preparations have been good, the boys have been sharp and focused and we’re relishing the challenge ahead. We want to build early momentum and we have an opportunity to do that in Parma.
“There will be a small home crowd out there, which is fantastic and we’re really looking forward to playing in front of some spectators after everything that’s happened over the last few months. It should be lively and entertaining affair.”
Five academy products are included on the bench, including lock Ben Murphy and Welsh internationals Rhys Carré and Dillon Lewis.
Cardiff Blues: Matthew Morgan; Josh Adams, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Hallam Amos; Jarrod Evans, Lloyd Williams; Corey Domachowski, Liam Belcher, Dmitri Arhip, Seb Davies, Cory Hill (capt.), Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Botham, Josh Turnbull
Replacements: Kirby Myhill, Rhys Carré, Dillon Lewis, Ben Murphy, Olly Robinson, Lewis Jones, Jason Tovey, Garyn Smith
The following players were not considered for selection due to injury:
Ellis Jenkins (Knee)
Tomos Williams (Shoulder)
Rhys Gill (Bicep)
Jason Harries (Knee)
Owen Lane (Shoulder)
Mason Grady (Ankle)
Keiron Assiratti (Ankle)
Will Boyde (Calf)
Josh Navidi (Concussion)