AIL RUGBY: Queen’s Dave Hhitten ready for Blackrock challenge

Banbridge coach Dan Soper
Banbridge coach Dan Soper
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A Schools Cup winner with RBAI last year Dave Whitten is hoping he can help Queen’s gain promotion from Division 2A this season.

The students have moved into the play-off places after two consecutive wins but face a difficult task against Blackrock at the Dub.

Whitten’s two brothers Ian and Robert played at Queen’s while dad John played for Ulster in the second row and another brother Alan played for Ulster A.

Dave was a back row at school but has converted to lock in the opening months of the season.

“The step up in physicality is crazy. The boys you’re playing against in the AIL are about ten times the size of the boys I played against in school.

“I’m enjoying it, it’s a good step up and it is better for my game to be tested physically rather than playing at school with was more comfortable,” said Whitten.

“I played a wee bit of second row at school, I was coming out thinking I’m too small to play second row but if I’m playing for Queen’s Firsts I’ll play anywhere.

“I’m just happy to be playing in the AIL, 2A is a big ask and I’m just happy to be at that level.

“I’ve learned from my dad he was a good second row, it was tough at the start but sure a couple of games in it was fine.

“My dad gave me a few tips when I was younger but I think I’ll take my own tips from now on.”

Victories over Sunday’s Well and Corinthians have restored confidence to the students but Whitten knows there are more tough challenges ahead.

“It’s good to get wins on the board, we were under a bit of pressure at the start.

“We're just glad to win if we just keep that going now and keep pushing teams.

“We have a couple of tough fixtures coming up like Blackrock at home and away at Deramore.

“They are tough games even though Harlequins are below us it will be a difficult game there so we just need to keep the momentum going.”

Whitten listened to his brothers advice on which club to join.

“It’s a good dynasty and we all enjoyed it. Ian and Robert were giving all the chat about getting to Queen’s and enjoy the students life.”

Flanker Nick Timoney is with Ireland U20’s but scrum half Jonny Stewart is available while Marcus Rea is still injured.

Banbridge lead the division but only by points difference after last week’s defeat at Nenagh.

Dan Soper’s side host Cashel at Rifle Park and they will be looking to get back top winning ways.

Malone face Sunday's Well at Gibson Park and they will be looking to get points on the board at home.

Belfast Harlequins travel to Highfield in what will be a tough encounter,