LEWIS Stevenson will partner captain Johann Muller in the second row as Ulster begin their league campaign against Glasgow.
After a strong pre-season, Lewis is in possession of the No5 shirt and he is hoping to make the most of the opportunity.
“I’m really pleased to get a starting position, it’s a privilege and an honour to take the field in the first game,” said Stevenson
“A lot of responsibility comes with it as there are a lot of other guys who have been at pre-season who arent getting a chance so youve got to try and do your best and put in a big performance. You’ve got to respect your opportunity and make the most of it.
“I haven’t done a full 80 minutes yet but I’ve taken part in all three pre season games.
“I think the pre-season games have set us up really well but I don’t think you can read too much into the results.
“We’ve now got Glasgow and how we are going to be measured will depend on getting a result.”
Ulster failed to hit the heights in their last outing against Newcastle but on Friday night it is all about getting the right result.
“Last week maybe some of our technical aspects weren’t up to scratch but in terms of our intensity I think we’ve definitely been getting there,” said Lewis.
“We’ve been building each game towards taking the field against Glasgow and letting it all out there.
“The win is massively important for us against Glasgow. Momentum is all-important in rugby and getting that first win will really set us up.
“It’s not a complete disaster if we don’t get that as it’s only the first game in the season but we want to be challenging in the Rabo and in Europe so each game is very important.”
Stevenson is hoping to impress in the early games and hold off the challenge of Dan Tuohy when he returns from the national management programme.
“It’s tough but as a rugby player its all about enjoying the challenge and the pressure,” he added.
“If I dont make the best of the opportunity then Dan will come straight back in and play.”
pressure is always there but its good and it brings out the best in you.
When youre not under pressure you tend to sit in a comfort zone and dont push yourself whereas I know Ive got to go out and give 100% every game otherwise there are guys there only too willing to come in and take my place so its pressure but its good positive pressure and Im looking forward to it.
Getting that match hardness back is a good thing and the physicality aspect is massive and Im trying to bring that to my game on a consistent basis and not just fade in and out.
So that consistency is key for me and Mark has been talking to me about my breakdown work and to make sure that the breakdowns I am involved in are very effective.
As just about every rugby player will tell you whether its Johann or Stephen Ferris there are always areas in your game which youre working on to improve.
Its just about building on your strengths and ensuring that your weaknesses are worked on so that they can also become strengths.