Ulster and Ireland winger Craig Gilroy is hoping for a strong finish to the season after a campaign that has been plagued by injury.
Gilroy has only managed three tries this season but restored to the starting line up for tonight’s trip to Edinburgh to injury he is determined to rediscover the form that has made him one of the most precocious talents in European rugby.
“It’s been a long season and it has been frustrating, at the start I had one injury after another and I was out for age,” recalled Gilroy.
“I just had stupid wee niggles that has probably seen my confidence go down as I wasn’t playing the way I used to be.
“But this is now probably the first time that I’ve feel 100% this season. I came off the bench last Friday and I felt good and sharp.
“I just wanted to get my hands on the ball and get back to what I do best which is taking players on, beating defenders and going forward and hopefully I made an impact.”
“I have to think that I’m coming on and have to make an impact and worry what I’m going to do, I don’t worry what the score is it could be 100-0 I still want to come on a put my hand up.”
This time last year Gilroy was one of the bright sparks in a disappointing Ireland Six Nations campaign but he didn’t feature this time around.
He said: “It just shows that rugby is always chopping and changing, it’s good to see the guys do well an win especially for Brian O’Driscoll’s last game as he is a legend.
“It’s good to see the Ulster boys do well but at the same time it’s mixed emotions it can be hurtful not to be involved having been involved before but that is just fuel to the fire to work harder and become a better player.”
While Saracens looms large on the horizon Ulster face Edinburgh and Cardiff and they are two huge games for the team and Gilroy to be in the mix for the quarter final.
“There are two away games and we need a huge performance in both. I have to try do the best I can to be involved in the big games.
“Munster a couple of years ago was a great day and I remember it like it was like yesterday.
“I have the desire to get there and that is what you play for, there is more competition and you can either let it beat you or it can make you a better play and you have to do whatever it takes to get your spot.”
Gilroy has had a spell at fullback this season and he enjoys the challenge.
“I could have been coming on at 15 on Friday and that wouldn’t have been a problem,” he added.
“I enjoy fullback I’ve been working on my kicking and I’m kicking really well in training, so if I’m called there because Jared is being slotted in at 13 or playing a bit of 10 it’s good to have that there and the coach’s confidence that you can slot in.”
On his last visit to Murrayfield Gilroy started for Ireland in front of a packed stadium but tonight is a different experience.
“Last time in played there it was Ireland against Scotland in the Six Nations and I got a try. This time it will be with Ulster and there will probably be nine people in the stand.
“It’s a fantastic stadium, and it’s a fixture that we should be looking to do well in,” Gilroy added.
well in, we’ve been successful I’ve time I’ve been there with Ulster and hopeful it will be the same this weekend.”
“Some people will change and some won’t regardless who you are playing in front off, you just try to play your best, do you job and try and get the win, it doesn’t matter who is watching we want to win and get the points.”
“I’ll just stay focussed and do the basics right, play smart and if the opportunity comes hopefully I can get a few tries as it has been a while.”Ulster have taken a possible 18 points from a maximum 20 available during the Six Nations period and a home semi final in the Pro12 for a second consecutive season is now a real goal.
“We’re going well as a team an it’s important that we can carry the momentum on into the next round of games.”