Stuart McCloskey relishing Ulster battle with Bath
Stuart McCloskey is relishing the challenge of facing Bath midfield duo Jamie Joseph and Jamie Roberts as Ulster begin their European conquest at the Rec this afternoon.
Joseph is back in the Bath starting line-up after helping England reach the World Cup final in Japan while Roberts has 94 Welsh caps and went on two British Lions tours.
“I played against Jamie Roberts when we played Harlequins, it will be interesting,” said McCloskey. “I like to think our styles are slightly different.
“If the smaller guy is playing 12 you know you can sort of physically impose yourself and get gain lines a bit easier, whereas with Roberts you know he is going to sit down a bit more, hit pretty hard if you do run straight at him, so you have got to work out ways to sort of play him and leave different things open.
“The 12 that moves a bit better will struggle to get to the outside a bit more, struggle to get him turning in. But with Roberts if you are going to run the short lines you know he is going to be there, we have got to work out ways to get around that I think.
“Bath are a great team, they’ve quality players, one to fifteen I’d say. We know what sort of task we have.”
McCloskey played his first full match of the season in the defeat by Munster at Thomond Park last Saturday.
“It was pretty frustrating those first sort of six, seven weeks of the season because I kept getting niggly injuries, just odd things that were keeping me out,” said McCloskey. “It was nothing serious but just things that were annoying, the coaches would be asking the strength-and-conditioning guys if they thought I’d be good for the weekend and then we’d get to Thursday and it was a case of ‘no, not this week, it’ll be next week’ and then by the time we got to next week it was another thing.
“It was annoying but I’m feeling good now and I think I’m in the best nick I’ve been in for a while.”
McCloskey is hoping sampling the European Cup quarter-finals last season will inspire the team.
“That is what every side wants to do,” he said. “We have been sort of building towards that I hope, the last two-and-a-bit years we sort of got there.”