Rob Lyttle is ready for Ulster’s Champions Cup test with Bath
Rob Lyttle is hoping his momentous week will get even better when Ulster face Bath at the Rec in the opening pool match of the European Champions Cup on Saturday afternoon.
The winger penned a new three-year contract on Tuesday that will keep him at Kingspan Stadium until at least 2023, and Lyttle is hoping for his first European start and first taste of victory in the northern hemisphere’s premium competition.
“I have grown up supporting Ulster, and I have relished the opportunity to represent my home province,” he said. “So it was an easy decision for me to commit my future here. I believe Ulster are building something special and I’m really excited about playing a part in the club’s future.
“To make my debut for Ulster and play once was a dream come true, to get a few more caps was brillian,t and now to sign on for three years is absolutely brilliant and something I never through I’d do.
“Growing up watching guys like Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe, those guys were my heroes, and now that they have left the wing jerseys in a good spot so maybe I can do a decent job.
“I’ve played in Europe twice, both have been away and we have lost both (Bordeaux and Wasps) so hopefully we’ll not repeat that again if I get another chance.
“It’s not the actually game, because you want to win every game, it’s the build up, there is a buzz in training and you know European Rugby is coming up and if you just walked in you would know there is something special about the week.”
Ulster are aiming to land their first silverware in 13 years and are hoping to build on last season when they reached the knockout stages both in Europe and domestically.
“In Europe and the Pro14 we made knockout rugby it’s enjoyable and that’s what we want to do,” said Lyttle.
“We don’t want to just settle for qualifying for Europe and just being happy with our performances, we want to play knockout rugby and win trophies, we want to keep pushing for that and the way to do it is to play knockout rugby.
“All the guys are disappointed after that (last year’s quarter final) and are chomping at the bit to get going again.
“I was down (at the Aviva v Leinster) but was injured and didn’t play, it was class. I’d been down to a few Ireland games at the Aviva and the atmosphere was close to that and that is the type of rugby you want to play in from an early age.”
Lyttle has started four of Ulster’s six games this season and admits the competition for places in the back three is driving him on.
“I’ll just have to play my best and if that is not good enough then there isn’t much I can do about that,” he said
“If you were guaranteed a start every week you’d rest and take it easy where when everybody is pushing everybody apart from ‘Hendy’ and Jacob everybody else is fighting for their spot, and that is what you need.”