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Paddy Wallace fully motivated as he returns to playing

Paddy Wallace

Paddy Wallace

Ulster’s most capped player, Paddy Wallace, is determined that this season will be a trophy winning one for the club.

The international centre will win his 189th cap for his Province on Friday night against Zebre as the focus returns to the RaboDirect PRO12.

This will be his first game for the senior side since rupturing his ACL in February.

Wallace has played two games in the past fortnight since returning to fitness with the Ulster Ravens in the British & Irish Cup and tonight will mark the achievement of another goal for him - his return to full professional rugby.

The 34-year-old has made no decisions on his future, but this season could be his last in an Ulster shirt having agreed a one year extension to his contract in April.

It is always dangerous to read too much between the lines, but when talking with the News Letter this week Wallace was certainly determined that this season would see Ulster win a trophy and he wanted more than ever to be a part of that success.

“Some have talked about being the first Ulster player to make 200 caps, said Wallace.

“Yes, that would be a tremendous achievement.

“It has been a long time since I have won anything with Ulster.

“It is silverware which is driving me, it would be a shame to hang up the boots and the following season or two they come back and win a league title or something.

“It is a major motivating drive for me.”

A sold-out 14,000 capacity Ravenhill will certainly give Ulster’s elder statesman a huge reception this evening and he is hoping to reward them with a good performance.

“While I have been going through a long rehab I have watched Ravenhill transforming and I am looking forward to getting out there again.

“It was great to get the two games under my belt with the Ravens. This week was always the goal to get back and get game time at Ravenhill with the senior time.

“The way the stadium has been developing and the team playing so well, it has been a long time and I am looking forward to it.”

Wallace starts at first centre and forms a new midfield partnership with Jared Payne.

That in itself is an exciting prospect with two talented players mixed their skills - although like all partnerships it needs a little time to gel.

Darren Cave and Luke Marshall, who played in the double victories over Treviso in the Heineken Cup only began to find their feet together in recent weeks.

As for the future, Wallace admits it is something he has been thinking about, probably more than he wants too.

“Yes it is on my mind, it would be a lie if I said anything else.

“For me I am focusing on the next month or two of being back playing again and doing myself justice.

“Having worked so hard to get back and now playing for Ulster again I really want to achieve something with them this year.

“I think this team is at a stage where we have been contenders for last few years and it is a frustration that we have not won anything as a whole yet.”

Motivation is not an issue for Wallace!

 

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