18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
Kiwi duo Jared Payne and Nick Williams are also named in the panel after being rested for last Sunday's league trip to Scarlets.
Experienced hooker Nigel Brady, development prop Ricky Lutton and outside back Michael Allen come in to provide the Ulster management team with further options.
Stephen Ferris, Lewis Stevenson, Declan Fitzpatrick and Adam Macklin remain sidelined through injury.
Ulster go into the game with a nine-point tally from the opening two rounds of the competition, three more than the second-placed Saints.
A win on Friday night would give them a very strong position before the return fixture at Ravenhill next week.
ULSTER Squad (v Northampton Saints) - Backs (11): Ruan Pienaar, Paul Marshall, Paddy Jackson, Paddy Wallace, Luke Marshall, Darren Cave, Michael Allen, Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Craig Gilroy, Jared Payne.
Forwards (16): Rob Herring, Rory Best, Nigel Brady, Ricky Lutton, Callum Black, Tom Court, John Afoa, Neil McComb, Johann Muller, Dan Tuohy, Iain Henderson, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry, Mike McComish, Roger Wilson, Nick Williams.