The return of British Lions wing Tommy Bowe has added further firepower though they will be grateful to kick-off the Heineken Cup at Ravenhill.
The Ulstermen have won their last 11 games at home in the Heineken Cup, including victories over some of the biggest names in Europe such as ASM Clermont Auvergne and Leicester Tigers.
In stark contrast, Castres, consistent performers in the Top 14, have one of the worst away records in the tournament having won just won of their last 17 games on the road in the Heineken Cup.
Key to turning that form around will be former Ravenhill favourite Pedrie Wannenberg who replaced No8 Chris Masoe at Castres in the summer after playing every game in Ulster's march to the final.
- Johann Muller and Craig Gilroy both played in every minute of Ulster Rugby's 2011/12 Heineken Cup campaign, which lasted nine matches up to the final.
- Castres Olympique missed an average of 16.8 tackles per match in last season's Heineken Cup, the second worst total after former Italian side Aironi.
- Castres had the second poorest lineout unit in the Heineken Cup last season, winning just 79% of ball on their own throw.
- Ulster lost two matches on their way to the Heineken Cup final last season, which also resulted in a third defeat in nine matches.
- Ulster have faced French opposition more often than any other nation in the Heineken Cup, winning 13, drawing one and losing 19 of their ties.
- Ulster have won their last 12 home games in this competition, with their last Heineken Cup defeat at Ravenhill coming against Stade Francais Paris in 2008.
- Castres conceded 102 points in their three away games last year, scoring just 33 in reply and losing all three encounters (v Scarlets, Northampton Saints & Munster Rugby).
- The French side have not won on the road in Europe since dismantling Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo 76-11 in Italy in 2009 (Amlin Challenge Cup). Their only victory away from home in the Heineken Cup since their run to the semi-finals in 2001/02 was against Benetton Treviso in 2007.
- Johann Muller won 52 lineouts last season (including three steals), 18 more than any other player in the competition. In addition, Rory Best threw more successful lineouts (99) than any other player last season, achieving an 86% throw success rate in the process.
- Castres have lost 10 of their 14 Heineken Cup meetings with Irish opposition; only against Scottish outfits (25%) do they have a lower win % rate than against Irish sides (29%).