New hooker Rob Herring started his rugby education at London Irish and after learning his trade he returned home before Ulster came calling.
“I went to Irish after school and it was a chance to develop in their academy because their system was a lot better than the one back home to develop,” revealed Herring.
“I spent two years in the academy there and got a few senior caps, I enjoyed it a lot and mad some good friends and I learned a lot but after two years in England it was time to go home and see my family.”
“I went back home and was playing for the Western Province U21’s but then I decided to study so I was playing for the Stellenbosch Maties in a varsity cup league, it’s a good league with good players and then after that I got drafted back into the Western Province seniors and there was a bit of interest from over here.”
“When I was playing for Maties there were a few scouts out there, and David Humphreys got in contact with my agent, he called me and explained what it was like here and it took off from there.”
Herring was happy to come to Ulster especially with the already strong South African link at Ravenhill.
“It was good to have that because in my first month here I lived with Robbie (Diack) and he showed me around and got me settled in a bit, having some of the other South African guys around just makes you feel a bit more at home.”
Herring enjoyed making a winning debut against Glasgow last week in the first league game of the season.
“It was pretty physical and a bit more than back home, there was a big emphasis on the set piece and it was a good game, we played well but our defence wasn’t up to standard but we did alright, it was good to get off with a win and I enjoyed the game.”
“If you ask any player they will say they want a good performance but obviously getting the win is the first thing and we’ll take the points.”
Herring has been impressed by the quality of the Ulster pack.
“There is a lot of weight behind me, scrummaging with John (Afoa) and Deccy (Fitzpatrick) on the tight head side makes it a lot easier, while Callum (Black) and I have goo a good partnership going there and Tom Court is coming back.”
“I have a lot of internationals around me to break me into the system.”
Herring has the unenviable task of trying to keep Ireland hooker Rory Best out of the Ulster starting line up.
“Rory’s reputation speaks for itself, I want to do everything I can to keep the No2 jersey and I don’t see it as an impossibility and hopefully I’ll just keep pushing for the spot.”
“I can learn a lot from Rory in training and Nigel (Brady) has been around for ages so I’m picking up on what he does, as a young player you are always learning.”
“I’m quite young for a hooker and still have a lot to learn about scrummaging more consistently and dealing with different pressures on the file, there are always little things to work on and I could improve my ball carrying.”
Herring will face the Ospreys on Saturday at the Liberty Stadium and he isn’t daunted by the task.
“For me I just take each game as it comes, they are the defending champions and they are going to be up for it after last week’s lost but you just have to meet them physically and take the game to them.”