Prop Andy Warwick is hoping he can make the Ulster loose head shirt his own.
After a successful summer with Emerging Ireland Warwick will start against the Ospreys in the PRO12 opener at Kingspan Stadium on Friday night as Callum Black is side lined with an arm injury.
“It’s been a tough pre-season but I can’t wait to get stuck into the games especially with the first league game and get a good game.
“You have to do your best and hopefully try and keep in the team so that whenever Callum’s back from his injury you’re possibly ahead of him, said Warwick.
“It’s great to have the first game at home and the crowd will be behind us but we definitely need a good start, the first two games are key.”
Ulster are missing eight players to the world cup while the Welsh region are missing 13 but Warwick knows Steve Tandy’s men are a tough proposition at any time.
“We’re missing a few too but I think our squad is strong enough that come Friday night we’ll be able to do a job.
“In the pre-season games we didn’t start too well but now that it’s competition time we’ve got a few players coming back in and we’re going to hopefully push on and do well and get the win against the Ospreys.”
“We’ve analysed their pre-season game and we know most of their players anyway but if we do our job right it should be no problem.”
“I think we’re always confident in our scrummaging but just have to push on and get the upper hand in every game.”
“The Ospreys are a strong team and they have a strong squad regardless of who’s away, it’s a big ask but we’ll do our best,” he added.
“We’ve analysed Dimitri Arhip who played against Saracens in their warm-up, he’s a strong tight-head and I played against him last November but hopefully I’ll get the upper hand.”
Ulster lost their two pre season friendlies but they were more about getting things right than results.
“You just have to give everyone a go and see how they go and get the best combinations for the competitive games.
“I think we were going for the corner every time and not taking our points. Come the competitive games we’ll be looking to take our points when we need them and that will make a massive difference, hopefully we’ll do a good job on Friday.”
Warwick was part of the Emerging Ireland side that won the Tbilisi Cup by beating Emerging Italy, Uruguay and Georgia and he is hoping to add to his medal collection but ending Ulster’s nine year trophy drought.
“I really enjoyed the Tbilisi Cup and it was a bit hot out there, But it was brilliant to be involved and in the set-up with players playing for the Irish set-up, it felt good winning out there even if it was after only three games but it’s a long season in the Pro12 and it would be nice to get into the playoffs and get to the final.”