Andy Warwick plans to make most of opportunities with Ulster

Ulster loose head Andy Warwick on the attack during the pre-season friendly against Leinster
Ulster loose head Andy Warwick on the attack during the pre-season friendly against Leinster

Normally props earn their nicknames from their power, size or scrummaging ability.

All Black Ola Brown was the Polynesian powerhouse, South Africa’s Tendai Mtawarira is the Beast and Ireland’s Peter Clohessy earned the moniker The Claw.

Ulster’s Andy Warwick has earned his alias away from the game after his Ballymena club mates decided to call him the Big Licence.

“The Ballymena boys keep me going, it’s not my twitter account it’s one of the Ballymena boys taking the hand out of me, I’ve a HGV licence so they all cracked onto that and started calling me ‘the big licence’,” explained Warwick.

“My dad has his own engineering company and I would drive the odd time for him.”

Warwick is hoping to make the most of his opportunities this season

“It has been going well and there is plenty of competition in the front row now, there are five tight heads so training is really competitive, last week the scrums went well.”

Mark Anscombe gave Warwick his chance at the back end of last season against Leinster and Munster.

“I got on well with Mark, there are changes at the top but it’s just the same thing come in do you job work hard and hopefully everything well go well.”

Warwick is one of those rare props who can play both sides of the scrum but he is hoping he can nail down the Ulster No1 shirt.

“I’m more comfortable playing loose head so hopefully I’ll be able to push on and challenge for a starting spot and see how the season goes.

“Loose head is my position and that is what I’m focusing on this season, at the end of last season there were a few injuries and stuff, I’d only played tight head once or twice for Ballymena in three or four years and I’m definitely more comfortable at loose head.

“A year and a half ago Allen Clarke brought me up from the All Ireland League to the Ravens set up and then eventually into the academy, I worked on my strength to this summer, I’ve definitely got stronger.

“It’s a lot bigger step up from the All Ireland League than I imagined, with all the experience around me and the back five helping in the scrums it’s been brilliant, in training everybody is helping each other for the better of the team.”

Warwick put in an impressive display at the set piece against 41 time capped Mike Ross in Ulster’s friendly win over Leinster last weekend.

“It was a good experience up against Mike who is one of the best in Ireland and we went well against him, it was a learning curve as well and he has a few tricks.”

“At the scrum you’re learning every time you go out there and with Clarkey you’re learning all the time and he keeps us right and the competition is good.

“It’s brilliant we know what is happening in each session before we do it, we go out and everything is so precise, Les has his own way of doing things and you just have to get on with it.”

Warwick has been able to tap into the knowledge of former Ireland prop Bryan Young.

“He has helped me a lot and he does the scrum up at Ballymena, he’s also done a bit of tight and loose so speaking to him has helped me.”

Warwick knows he is in for a tough day at the office as Ulster kick off their Pro12 campaign away at the Scarlets.

“The Scarlets have a really big pack especially the back five and the front row is pretty hefty, we saw a few of the game against Gloucester highlights, there like to maul and they are experienced so it will be a big challenge for the front five.

“I just to compete for the starting no1, I learned a lot from Tom Court last year and loose head is a very competitive position with Ruaidhri Murphy and Callum Black and myself there all going for it.”