Ireland U20 flanker Connor Joyce is hoping his performances for the Ulster Ravens in the British & Irish Cup can elevate him into Mark Anscombe’s senior squad.
Joyce starts at blindside flanker for the Ravens as they start their campaign with a tricky tie at the English Championship side the Cornish Pirates on Friday night.
The Ravens go into the game without having a hit out so far this season but Joyce doesn’t feel that will be a hindrance.
“It’s all about trying to put in a performance and take it to the next level and putting your best foot forward for the senior squad,” said the Malone man.
“We have been unfortunate with a number of injuries this year which was frustrating because everyone in the forwards was fit but we didn’t have enough to fill the squad but we have been around each other for the last couple of years so there should be any problems.”
“Coming back from the junior world cup I was looking forward to getting a few pre season games and training with the seniors has been good and this is my chance to show Mark Anscombe what I’m about and put my hand up for the senior squad.”
Jocye understands the need from patience.
“It’s a little bit frustrating because you’re not playing as much rugby as you want and there is a certain pecking order and you have to wait your chance to prove yourself and try and get up that ladder.”
“I’m old 20 years old and I still have a lot of development to go, there is a lot of lessons to be learnt from the senior players so it’s a case of getting some big performances under my belt.”
The Pirates have won three of their opening games and Joyce is expecting a tough night in Penzance.
“It’s very tough down there and our captain Big Lou (Lewis Stevenson) has played quite a lot against the Pirates he has a lot of experience, they will be tough to beat because they are very physical especially at their home ground.”
“They will be physical up front but we’ll try to play expansive rugby and take that out of them early on and take them on up front as well as using our backs out wide to try and grind them down.”
The Ravens went out in the pool stages last year but Joyce is hoping they can go all the way this year.
“We were in a tough group last year and it will be the same this year and I think we have learnt from our mistakes and we’re going to put better performances in, we want to try and do the same as Leinster did last year.”
Joyce is joined in the backrow by Mike McComish and Neil McComb, Stevenson is partnered in the second row by Alan O’Connor.
Paddy McAllister, Naill Annett and Broson Ross form the front row.
Behind the pack Michael Heaney and James McKinney are at half back, Chris Farrell and Ricky Andrew are in midfield, Peter Nelson and Chris Cochrane on the wings with David McIlwaine at full back.