James Hume determined to put the hard yards in

James Hume will start at centre tonight for Ulster as they host Glasgow to kick off the season (7.35pm).

Friday, 24th September 2021, 7:27 am
James Hume of Ulster on the charge during the pre-season friendly match against Saracens at The HAC. (Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Despite 20 starts for his province last season including all the big European games, winning his first Ireland cap against the USA in the summer and being recently named in Andy Farrell’s 50-man training squad, the outside centre believes he still has a long road ahead to reach his full potential.

“Motivation is that I’m still nowhere near where I want to be, I set pretty high bars at the minute,” reasoned Hume.

“Just being in that 50-man squad again has really pushed me on and they have obviously seen me in a good light from those summer tests and that has really pushed me on.

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“When I ran out against the USA, I burst out crying I was so overwhelmed and that has given me the hunger to go again.

“I have upped my game in terms of nutrition, recovery, training and just putting the extra effort in where I can and hopefully it starts to pay off in games because I am doing way more behind the scenes than I did last year.

“I felt that was a big part of what drove me on last year and that was why I was available for games because I recover quickly and do all the stuff right off the pitch.”

As well as improving on the pitch the former Schools’ Cup winner is also doing what he can away from the game to better himself. He said: “I’ve talked about podcasts before, John Cooney has alluded to the Huberman Lab and I got it from Rob Herring as well, there is a lot of science behind recover.

“I like to mix up what I do. Last year I went sea swimming with Kieran Treadwell, we’d go four times a week out to Brompton or Helen’s Bay and get a good 12-minute cold water swim in and I feel it has helped me.

“I have just found different ways to make my body as good as possible because I feel that it is a big part of the game that fans or outsiders who aren’t in a professional environment don’t appreciate how much of a battering your body takes.

“I’m working on every part of the game at the minute, I alluded to the off-pitch stuff to get my body in the best way possible, to train the best way possible to play as many games as possible.

“There is that and then there is the on-field stuff, I maybe want to excel my kicking game I took a bit of time off kicking after school because ‘Sops’ (Dan Soper) said to me ‘I don’t want you to ever place kick again’ after my final year in school so that will be something that I’ll work on this year.

“Consistency of basics is just a big thing, how well you can kick and pass, how well you can see space, there are so many parts of the game that I haven’t tapped into so it’s exciting.”

Hume is partnered by Stuart McCloskey in the centre while Ethan McIlroy gets the nod at full back.

In the pack there is a first start for hooker Brad Roberts, Wallaby Sam Carter captains the team from the second row.

Ulster team: (15-9) Ethan McIlroy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney; (1-8) Andrew Warwick, Brad Roberts, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter (Capt.), Greg Jones, Sean Reidy, Nick Timoney.

Replacements: Rob Herring, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole, Mick Kearney, Matty Rea, Nathan Doak, Mike Lowry, Will Addison.