Sean Doyle plans to keep making the most of his opportunities in Ulster backrow

Ulster's Sean Doyle
Ulster's Sean Doyle

With a star studded back row when opportunity knocks at Ulster you have to grasp it with both hands and Sean Doyle has certainly do that in Chris Henry’s absence but he knows if he lets his performance drop over the two weeks he may not be involved.

“It’s been good to just get back in good form after missing last year through injury,” said Doyle.

“It takes a bit of a run of games to get back into good form and if you’re not getting a run of games, then you’ve one opportunity and if you don’t take it you’re out.

“Had a bit of an opportunity at the start of the year but I wasn’t at my best and I had to wait for the chance to earn my spot with another crack and I did that and thankfully I’ve stayed in the mix since.

“A couple of injuries and I’ve managed to stay in the squad and then with Chrissie being away with the Six Nations Mark said ‘it’s an opportunity and there are six to eight games you could play.”

“But unless you’re playing well that’s all it’s going to be an opportunity and you might only get one and I’ve been playing every game like it’s my last and that’s what you’ve got to do so far it’s been really good for me.”

“To be involved in Saracens would be really great and you don’t get too many home quarter-finals to play in in the Heineken Cup, that would be something to have on your resume.”

“But for me it’s one week at a time, it is in the back of your mind that Sarries is coming up but unless I play this week it won’t matter as I won’t even be thought about for selection.”

While the Australian has enjoyed a prolonged run at openside side flanker he ended up on the wing in the bonus wing over the Dragons.

“I’ll take whatever I can get, I’ve played in the backs when I was 20-odd so it’s not massively unfamiliar but that wasn’t professional rugby.

“If I was fresh I think I’d have gone a bit better and maybe would have caught JP’s (Jared Payne’s) ball but I was absolutely busted and I was blowing big time.

“Mike McComish came on and when I saw him warming up I thought ‘brilliant, I’m going to get a rest as I was done as my calves were cramping up but then he just came on and said ‘right you’re on the wing.

“I thought he was joking, but it was like a bit of a rest because wingers have it easy, they just sit out there and I was getting cold out there.

“It was good that we could have a joke about it and that we were up in the game and comfortable in the game.

“McComish ended up on the other wing at one stage, we both hit a ruck and I said right let’s shuffle this back round but he said, no mate I’m on the wing so we both had a laugh.” These things happen and you have to adapt and overcome.”

Ulster scored three tries in the first half against the Scarlets last week but had to wait until the last minute to seal the bonus point and Doyle has emphasised the importance of an 80 minute performance at Edinburgh.

“When you look back at the game, we scored three quick ones and it’s pretty hard to maintain your game-plan and go about things the way would if you hadn’t scored those three tries because you sort of think we’re just going to smash them and put them away here.”

“If they get a penalty or something it just gives them that bit of belief to get back into the game. If you have your foot on the throat and you let it off it can be a bit of a nightmare to wait until the 80th minute to get a bonus point.

“You go to panic stations where if we’d just looked and stuck with your systems and your game-plan we would probably have got that bonus in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

“When we play at Ravenhill we don’t want anybody to beat us here and we try and take that mentality away with us, but whoever you’re playing has that same mentality about their home ground and I think that puts an extra few per cent in each player you’re playing against.

“I don’t think it’s a case of us just not playing as well as we do at home, last year we were actually playing better away from home, I think it’s just the mentality of the opposition in front of their fans.

“This week we want to go over and do a job on them, we want the four points if not five.

“We’ve had back to back home games so we’ve now got to do that away. It’s not so much on our minds that we’ve got two away games.”

Doyle doesn’t feel the role of the openside hasn’t changed between the northern and southern hemisphere.

“It’s maybe just a bit of a personal preference as here there’s a big focus on chop-tackling. It works well for me as I’m not the biggest.

“I try to be quicker and more mobile than the rest and just get up there to chop them down, I think it works well for our defensive pattern as well as we need to be really good and strong on the ball so it doesn’t matter who chops them down.

“It’s personal preference what you look for in a seven, for me it’s chop tackles.”

Doyle got one game with Stephen Ferris last season and he was happy to see the Irish international back on the pitch.

“I got a game with him last year, Munster at home in round two or three I think.

“It was good, having him back and his first touch, I couldn’t keep up with him and he was driving the bloke back quicker than I could catch up with him.

“That’s Stephen Ferris, we knew he still had it in him I thought he might have been a bit more rusty than that but he came out and tore the place to pieces.

“It’s a privilege to play with him he’s an unbelievable player and a top bloke as well.”