Niall O’Connor is hoping to give Ulster coach Mark Anscombe a selection headache.
O’Connor kicked 17 points in Sunday’s win over Zebre and with Paddy Jackson due back next week from international duty the former Connacht outhalf knows if he can put another big performance in against Treviso he could keep the No 10 shirt for the table topping clash with the Scarlets.
“Mark has spent the last couple of weeks about getting the point across of boys taking there opportunity, he said last week that individually you want to make him have to make the decision that when the internationals do come back, we have been trying to make the most of these games and trying to take the opportunity and there is no reason if you are playing well and doing a job that those guys will come straight back into the side,” said O’Connor
“It was good to get a win against Zebre, it was a little bit tighter than we hoped for but it wasn’t the performance we were looking for but get the win and I’m always happy to play my part and kick a few goals which helped.”
With Jackson’s form O’Connor’s chances have been limited but he has been happy to play in the All Ireland League and wait for his opportunity.
“When you’re in the starting XV and not getting rugby at the senior level you need to be playing somewhere, Malone has been great I’ve been getting on well with Jacque Benade and they are a good side, I’ve been getting a bit of game time with the Ravens and that helps and it means when every you do get back in and get a few minutes off the bench as I did against Edinburgh I’m going in with a bit of confidence having played a little bit of rugby leading up to that.”
O’Connor was relieved to get the four points against Zebre.
“It was a little bit frustrating from an attack point of view, it was hard to get things going, maybe we were a little bit careless with the ball at times, there were a few turnovers and it seemed a little bit stop start, we let them get into it with some soft scores and they were able to grow in confidence which made things more difficult.
“I think they are a better side than there record shows, they played some decent rugby and had a few big guys in the pack that could carry ball and I think we made life difficult for ourselves.
“The frustrating thing for me as a outhalf was the pack weren’t up to scratch and going forward this week that is something we’ll be looking to put right and hopefully we can play with a little more tempo.
“We did show at times when we kept the ball we caused them a lot of trouble but unfortunately we couldn’t do it enough.”
The outhalf is hoping have to play two games in five days won’t have an adverse effect on Ulster.
“Any team is going to find it tough playing two games in five days but personal I’m not as sore as a few of the bigger guys who would see a lot more traffic than myself.”
“The good thing is we are over here for the week and we are with each other all the time and in the small space we have between games we can get a little bit more work done and the focus is straight onto the next game.”
Paul Marshall has been released by Ireland and will join the squad in Italy but O’Connor is happy to play with him or Michael Heaney.
“I thought Michael was quite good on Sunday, his passing and box kicking were great, Marshy will be looking for a bit of game time, he’ll be a bit frustrated and will have a point to prove after spending the last couple of weeks in camp.
“You play and train with this guys all the time, I’ve played with Michael loads of times for the Ravens and even in previous years for Harlequins and I’m very comfortable with either of them and I don’t think it will be an issue.”
O’Connor expects another tight tussle against Treviso.
“I think they will be similar to Zebre, they have a big pack but they will have a few internationals gone so it could be a similar side to what played Connacht a couple of weeks ago.”
“They are a good side they have a good home record, the games they lost were Leinster and the Scarlets, were are under no illusions it will be a step up from Sunday, we need to be on our game and better than last week if we want to win.”