Mike Allen is hoping to recapture his early season form when he faces the Ospreys at Ravenhill in a crunch RaboDirect PRO12 match at Ravenhill on Friday.
In spite of limited starts has bagged three tries for Ulster all coming within the first month of the season and is in line for his first start since the Zebre game in December when he picked up and unfortunate injury.
“Edinburgh was probably my first start in a month with the Heineken Cup, it was something I was looking forward to, it was one of those things and looking back at the video and what happened it was just an accident between my jaw and their openside flanker’s knee,” said Allen, who is expected to start for Ulster against the Welsh side tomorrow night.
“I came out worse, it is annoying hopefully this week I can get 80 minutes under my belt and repeat the form I had at the start of the year over these next four weeks with the guys away in Irish camp.”
“I loved the start of the year and had played the three games going into the Treviso match and I probably had never as played as well in an Ulster shirt.
“I felt really confident in myself and even going back to the Glasgow game where I stuffed up that pass from Rob Herring bar that I had a good game.
“I followed it up with reasonable performances against Connacht and Treviso and now over these four games it’s an opportunity for me to try and make a name for myself and get some of the early season form back.”
Allen will be happy to play anywhere in the back line as long as he gets a start.
“There are a few boys missing to the Ireland squad and arguably one of the most exciting players to come out of Irish rugby Stuart Olding is out for the entire year.
“Paddy Wallace hasn’t got himself back yet, there is a shortage of people that can play 12 and I’m not saying you could throw me in there if I had my choice it would be outside centre, wing then full back and 12.”
“ut if I’m called up to play there or fill in I’m going to do my best, if I hadn’t played 13 before I’d find it more difficult moving from the wing straight into 12.
“I have experience at 13 and you can relate a few things from there to 12 and it is not as big a jump if I would have been from the wing but as I’ve said from last season wherever Mark wants to play me I’ll play.”
Allen did play at inside centre for Emerging Ireland last summer and he is hoping that if he can get a sustained run in the Ulster team he can go tour on again this summer.
“I had a good time over in Georgia I enjoyed it and I was playing 12 and I struggled in the first game against Georgia they are decent outfit and didn’t have a good game but it was an experience, hopefully I can get a run of games leading into the summer and maybe push for going to on either of the tours.”
“It is good that there is another tour below the senior one to Bucharest which will be a sort of A/Emerging team.”
Playing in a star studded backline Allen knows he has to make the most of any opportunity he gets in the whit shirt.
“Any young player that hasn’t established himself as an outright starter in the team will put pressure on themselves, you think I don’t want to mess up, I don’t want to make a mistake because if you screw up the opportunity you mightn’t get another one, it builds up but you can you it in a positive way when you get into a game you want to make an impression and in the first five minutes you could make one good tackle or a good pass or catch a high ball and the pressure is off you.
“I try to go into a game with little thought about this could be my only opportunity and I’ll just try to play free flowing rugby and enjoy it.”
Allen is learning how to deal with any mistakes he makes.
“It still bothers you and you still beat yourself up over it but it’s all about trying to move on and not let it not handle your game, to say if you make a mistake that it gets easier with more experience is not true, mistakes do happen and you just have to put it behind you.”
Allen enjoys playing with Jared Payne especially with the amount of scoring opportunities the Kiwi creates.
“Jared is all about heads up rugby and he is very smart, he knows when he looks at the opposition backline and react very quickly to know what needs to be done, there is probably only him and Darren Cave that can do that in the squad, it’s fantastic for me playing outside those two guys because they can create holes and opportunities and hopefully I’ll be the guy getting on the end of the last pass and running in from five yards to score.”