Scott Wilson ready to step up in must-win Kingspan clash with Benetton

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Queen’s prop Scott Wilson is set to earn his 12th cap for UIster in Friday’s must-win United Rugby Championship clash against Benetton at Kingspan Stadium.

Wilson has enjoyed a meteoric rise with the province this season and his success is all the more remarkable given he is still undertaking his studies.

However, Wilson almost threw in the towel on his career during some dark days earlier in his career.

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“There are times when I have probably thought about giving up both, times when I’ve had injuries and thought this isn’t the right space with the rugby, and times when I’ve thought the rugby is getting too much here, I don’t know if I can do Uni as well,” he said.

Ulster Rugby’s Scott Wilson pictured at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast ahead of a crunch United Rugby Championship clash with BenettonUlster Rugby’s Scott Wilson pictured at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast ahead of a crunch United Rugby Championship clash with Benetton
Ulster Rugby’s Scott Wilson pictured at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast ahead of a crunch United Rugby Championship clash with Benetton

“But family and friends have told me to stay at it and say ‘look if you step away from it you might regret it in a year but if you stay at it and get it done you’ll feel so much better at the end of it’.

“Dad has been there since day one and he was the one who dragged me down to the rugby club when I was afraid to step on the pitch.

“He’s been everywhere with me, over to France, Italy, over to England and then my sister has been following along as well – my family is huge and they are there at your highest point and your lowest.”

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​Wilson enhanced his reputation from the bench against the Sharks after he had just witnessed the Ulster scrum being destroyed by Springbok World Cup-winning loose head prop Ox Nche, with the 21-year-old holding his own against the opposition’s front row.

Facing Ox Nche has just been part of the learning curve for Wilson, who added: “I was a wee bit nervous but we’d had a good week with Fogs (John Fogarty, scrum coach) coming over midweek and we’d done a session with him, and the biggest thing for me is that pressure, keeping my chest down. I know Ox is a short fellow but he’s obviously very strong so he wanted to keep Tom (Stewart) up, so I knew I had to put everything into that next scrum.

“That next scrum was the most important one to make sure I could keep him down.

“It’s a wee bit of a change from playing in 1B but having Kitsy (Steven Kitshoff) here definitely helped and he was able to bring a vast amount of experience.

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“When I was scrummaging against him during the week he gave me a lot of pointers, things I can improve on because he was feeling what I was trying to give against him.

“He was able to give us what he thought Ox would go after for that week and I was able to have a think about that going into the game,” he added.

“Kitsy has been someone I have really relished and has given me an opportunity to take my scrummaging – which wasn’t at a sufficiently high-level last year – to the next step so yes, he’s been massive.”

Ireland scrum coach Fogarty has also been a big influence on Wison since arriving with Richie Murphy.

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“Massive,” Wilson admitted, “and he has brought a different aspect to my scrummaging being a fellow prop himself.

"He’s been able to bring some of the coaching techniques he used in the Ireland set-up to into ours and has given me additional pointers from what Dan (McFarland) had originally given me, so he’s been massive in helping alongside Kitsy.”

Ulster: (15-9): Mike Lowry, Rob Baloucoune, Will Addison, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney; (1-8): Eric O’Sullivan, Tom Stewart, Scott Wilson, Harry Sheridan, Alan O’Connor (C), Dave Ewers, Reuben Crothers, David McCann.

Replacements: John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, James French, Cormac Izuchukwu, Greg Jones, Dave Shanahan, Luke Marshall, Ethan McIlroy.

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