Nick Timoney hoping to lay down a marker in the back row

Nick Timoney is hoping he can continue his good run of form in the No8 shirt as Ulster take on Harlequins at the Stoop (8pm) tonight for a place in the European Challenge Cup quarter finals.

Sunday, 4th April 2021, 6:00 am

The former Queen’s backrow has made six of his eight starts this season in the No8 shirt, and with Marcell Coetzee sidelined, Timoney has a chance not only to nail down the back of the scrum position for the rest of this season but also lay down a marker for next season when the Springbok returns home.

“Obviously there’s going to be opportunities there, there’s always chances and it’s about timing, it certainly wasn’t a case of somebody calling me over and saying ‘he’s leaving, you can take this’,” said Timoney.

“Me and Marcell have played together this season, his announcement about leaving came at a time when I’d hardly played in two or three months.

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Ulster forward Nick Timoney

“I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder, his leaving is a chance and that’s part of it but I think it’s more coincidental than anything.

“There was a while when we were both sort of playing No8, he was the first choice and I was the second-choice but I wasn’t involved a whole lot, I guess it was good timing but it wasn’t planned that way.

“I like playing No8 but so do a lot of people, I’m equally happy playing six or seven, it’s nice to be in a settled spot and I’ve been lucky to have a good run of games recently, but to lock down a position over a number of years would obviously be really nice. If that’s eight, great, I love playing there but I don’t get precious about it either.”

Timoney believes he can adjust his game no matter which of the three backrow positions he is asked to play.

“I’ve always been a bit sceptical about those traditional roles,” he said. “You want balance within the back-row but I’ve always thought that impactful play is impactful play regardless of the number on your back.

“Big tackles, steals at the breakdown, hitting rucks, big carries, if done well it’s equally effective no matter where you’re playing.

“Some of the stuff might be slightly different at the set-piece but the fundamentals are the same. I always think if you start trying to tailor it too much you lose the sense of what it is you bring.

“Regardless of what number is on my back, I know what it is I want to bring.”

Playing regularly has seen an upturn in Timoney’s performances on the pitch

“It’s the most consistent run I’ve had for a while, I’ve had times over the years when I’d good runs and not so good runs,” he said.

“At the moment, I’m enjoying it, I know what I need to do and I know what I need to bring each week.

I like to think I’m adding to the team, I’ve found a good bit of form and I’ve that bit more experience now than in the past. I think I’m maybe a bit more rounded when I am coming good, it’s just about keeping it going.”

Ulster skipper Iain Henderson misses the trip to London but out half Billy Burns has been passed fit.

Quins chasing a home semi final in the Premiership have rested a host of their key players including Mike Brown, Marcus Smith, Danny Care and Joe Marler, former Ulster outhalf Brett Herron starts.

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