With a World Cup to aim for with Ireland just over a year from now, Ulster centre, Darren Cave, took the option of undergoing surgery to a shoulder injury in recent weeks.
Having just returned from a successful tour with the Irish to Argentina, a should problem which has niggled him since the Heineken Cup semi-final victory over Edinburgh in Dublin in 2012.
Cave is expecting to be back in action two weeks after the start of the Guinness PRO12 campagin (mid September) and is then hoping for a decent run in what is firstly a competitive Ulster team and then with Ireland come the November Test series.
“I took a big bang on my shoulder in the Heineken Cup semi-final back in 2012 but I’ve been able to manage it for the last couple of seasons,” Cave explained.
“Then I had to take the option of getting it done this summer because next year is the World Cup and that would rule me out of any chance I would have of going there.
“I didn’t think it would last another two years so five and a half weeks after surgery it feels brilliant and I’m expecting to be fit and raring to go for week one or two of the Guinness (PRO12).”
Cave is well aware of the competition for places in the midfield roles and he sees that as being a huge positive in the season ahead both at domestic and international level
“There’s competition for places in the backs like there’s never been at Ulster and it’s just going to have to bring out the best in us.”
“I think at number 12, given that Chris Farrell has left and Paddy Wallace has retired, you’ve Stuart Olding coming back, I’ve played a few games there and Luke Marshall is there and at 13 there’s Jared Payne and Louis Ludik as well - everyone will have to be on their game.”