Prop Adam Macklin has had a baptism of fire in an Ulster shirt, his only two starts for the province have been at the RDS against Leinster and Thomond Park against Munster.
Ulster fielded so-called weaken sides in both games but Macklin has enjoyed the challenge and makes his run on debut at Ravenhill against the Scarlets on Friday night in the top of the table PRO12 clash (kick-off 7.05).
“It was nice to get my first start of the campaign and my second start for Ulster, I’ve had two big games at the RDS last year and then Thomond this year so there’s no better place to go,” stated Macklin.
“It was disappointing to get a defeat and if you look at last year when we sent a similar sort of team down to Dublin the Rabo the scoreline wasn’t as favourable as it was this time.
“Hopefully we’re moving the right way and it’s good to be able to use the full squad. It’s frustrating, I’ve had to bide my time this year but I’ve been patient and kept my faith in my own ability and worked behind the scenes.
“I may not have been in as many match day squads as last year but I’m happy being involved in the last couple of games and hopefully if I continue to play well I’ll stay in there for the rest of the year.”
Macklin was captain of the Methody team that won the Schools’ Cup in 2008, he was playing No8 be then but with the lack of props coming through in Ireland he was persuaded to play his trade in the front row.
“We had a discussion with Gary Longwell the Academy manager and Neil Doak was there and basically it was decided that that was where my future lay.
“Obviously it’s tough to bring props through these days as there are not many about so they felt that was the best position for me to go forward and I haven’t looked back since.”
Macklin has been behind BJ Botha and John Afoa in the Ulster pecking order but as a 23 year old pro he knows he has time on his side.
“There were no two better people than BJ and John to learn off both have different styles of scrummaging but you listen to both of them and I’ve definitely learnt a lot from them.
“You know you’re not going to have it your own way, you’re going to have tough games and you’re going to come up against very experienced players.
“You’re going to learn from them there’s no doubt about that, it’s a learning curve but you’ve just got to be patient and you will come through it over the years.”
Macklin believes the influence of Ulster’s European Cup winner and former Ireland international Allen Clarke has helped the Ulster scrum this season.
“With the introduction of Allen as a scrum coach we’ve really progressed our scrummaging and it’s not just about the front row we’ve really made it into an eight man thing and worked on body positions with the back five as well as the front three so it’s now starting to come together and we’ve scrummed really well this year as a team.”