Marcus Rea highlights key boost from strong backing by Ulster staff
Marcus Rea has had to bide his time this season before breaking into the Ulster team - but it has been worth the wait for the 21-year-old back row.
Rea came off the bench in the victory of Leinster at the RDS, he had another impressive cameo as a replacement against the Ospreys which earned the former Ballymena Academy flanker a first European start in last week’s win at Clermont and he repaid the coaches’ trust with another eye-catching performance.
“It’s good, having that confidence behind you is everything, you want to have coaches that have faith in you,” said Rea. “I was nervous going into the start of the week but knowing everyone there and boys that had played before (helped).
“Having that confidence from the coaches is everything for me because I was there on merit.
“I’d be one of the guys that if he is not picking me he is not picking and, normally, I would have a fair idea why, I’d already know what my work-ons are so I keep working on them and I finally got a bit of game time where I can prove what I have been working on and it has come to fruition.
“One of the work-ons from my own personal standpoint was the jackal stuff, it’s working and I am getting there.”
When not in the team, Rea spent time studying different techniques of how to improve his game - especially around the breakdown and jackaling.
It immediately paid dividends and he has already won four turnovers this year.
“Between Roddy and just some stuff that I have seen online, I have been doing different kinds of drills and doing something that kind of stands out for me,” he said. “The stuff against Clermont, they were quick and physical in and around there, so it is something that I can work on when they are really hot in there...how I can make an impact.
“It is something that I have been working on and I’m trying to make it some sort of super strength and, moving forward, hopefully it will be something the coaches can use me for to get the ball back and have me as a valuable commodity.
“There are a few guys on Instagram that are very good and, to be honest, it is just some failed stuff from me, whether it is feed in or just riding the tackles or the clean outs, it is a very feel-orientated thing, you need to read the situation to see what is going on and sometimes you only get that in a game.
“It is tough the way we train with such pace, you are having to make such quick decisions, which is all good when it comes to the game.
“It is something that I want to drive and between me and Nick (Timoney) and a few of the other backrows, if we can add that to our repertoire it will take us a long way.”
Rea is hoping to fulfil a childhood dream tomorrow night with a start against Northampton Saints at Kingspan Stadium, where he used to go with his Dad to cheer Ulster on.
“Every Friday...I remember the game against Leicester and there were some huge games,” he said. “I think we got my Dad (Thomas) a season ticket and I was like ‘I’d love to go as well’ then getting one later on.
“They are memories that I would always have dear to me when I think about the old Ravenhill and it is quite special when you get to run out there yourself, you have all those memories sitting in the stand watching.
“I’d a dream when I was a kid kicking the ball around the garden, it was more when I got into secondary school that I thought, potentially, it could become more than a hobby.
“It wasn’t always easy but, hopefully, with hard work I can stay here.”
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