Eric O'Sullivan's stock continues to rise with Ulster
Eric O'Sullivan has no regrets about moving North to purse his rugby career - and 10 caps already with the Ulster senior side is testament to that.
The Leinster Schools’ prop was not offered an Academy place, but when the shout came from Keiran Campbell to move to Ulster he jumped at the opportunity
“Once that call came I was always coming,” said the exciting prospect.
“I was just delighted to get the chance.
“I am so grateful to Ulster for giving me the opportunity to come up here and make what I wanted to do a reality.”
The 22-year-old made his mark in the then British and Irish Cup, so much so that by the end of the 2016/17 season, there was an Academy contract on the table for the Dubliner.
Having entering the Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy he made the first step on the way to making his way into the senior ranks and, after a good year with Banbridge in Division 1B of the All Ireland League, his hard work was rewarded again.
Having been involved in the pre-season friendlies, O’Sullivan’s breakthrough came against Scarlets, having been drafted onto the bench.
Ironically he will be playing the Welsh side again this weekend when Ulster travel to Parc Y Scarlets in the PRO14 - potentially as the starting prop.
It will mean he has not missed a game with Ulster this season.
“If you’d told me in the summer I’d be involved in all the games so far I wouldn’t have believed you,” he laughed.
“It’s been incredible, it’s been such a shock really. You’re obviously hopeful of getting an opportunity but I never thought it would go this well.
“I’m just trying to do as well as I can out there to keep that jersey, trying to do what you do in training, what you trained for over summer and then putting that into action when you get out there.”
Looking ahead to Friday night’s game, O’Sullivan predicted a tough encounter.
Ulster needed a last gasp John Cooney penalty to win 15-13 in Belfast in September.
“It is going to be another tight game,” said O’Sullivan.
“They are a good squad and play a good brand of rugby.
“In 2017 they showed dhow good they were and it will be a tough prospect, but that is how you grade yourself, by playing against the best.
“The definitely have a good set-piece. Any team that looks to play expansive rugby you have to have that strong set-piece to set that platform.
“They are going to try and move the ball, but we have to be ready for those tight exchanges and not give them any way into the game from there.”
Meanwhile, Ulster head coach, Dan McFarland confirmed Ulster would not be looking for a replacement for prop Rodney Ah You who has moved to Newcastle Falcons.
With a group of young props coming through McFarland said: “We are going to manage with what we have got.”