B & I CUP RUGBY: Robert Lyttle has made big steps in just a year

Ulster's Robert Lyttle in action with Bristol's Craig Hampson.
Ulster's Robert Lyttle in action with Bristol's Craig Hampson.

This time last year Robert Lyttle was preparing to play in the Danske Bank School’s Cup for Methodist College.

Now he is hoping to make his third British and Irish Cup appearance as Ulster ‘A ‘travel to the Scarlets Select on Saturday.

Lyttle played in the win over Bristol at the Kingspan Stadium and the defeat at Bedford while he’s playing his club rugby for Queen’s trying to help the students gain promotion from Division 2A in the All Ireland League.

“It’s a big step up to Ulster A and the Queen’s set up has very much that that as a stepping stone, that has helped me build for Ulster ‘A’ and grow in confidence,” said Lyttle.

“I like to play an expansive brand of rugby and a bit of flash offloads so being at Queen’s suits my game and I’m enjoying it very much.

“We have a couple of well recognised players already, a couple of boys have come over from England and it’s good to have those boys in the back line as it creates good team morale, having boys like that and players coming in from Ulster boosts confidence and helps the team play well.”

Lyttle turns 19 next month and is equally comfortable playing at full back or on the wing and can also goal kick if the need arises.

“I prefer to be at full back but if chances are there further afield on the wing I’ll be happy to take them but at club level I’d like to continue to play at full back just to get my hands of the ball.”

“With Jackie (Milligan) playing week in week out I’m not going to try to step into his goal kicking shoes and with Ulster A I’m just trying to find my feet, I’ll just focus on the basic skills before I start goal kicking.”

Lyttle is enjoying his outing in the B and I cup.

“It was good and it’s a stepping stone towards the full team, you are playing with boys who have plenty of experience at the highest level and as a young boy coming through it’s great experience.”

“Against Bedford Luke Marshall was playing and Sam Arnold who is only 19 has plenty of caps and experience and that boosts my confidence having big names around me and play well.”

“It’s all about development and I’m happy where I am at the minute and just to keep working hard.”

“At the start of the year I was training with the senior squad but not so much now just because all the boys are back from the world cup.”

Ulster A travel to Wales five points behind leaders Bedford but with the Scarlets select shipping 97 points in their opening two defeats Lyttle is hopefully of getting maximum points.

“It’s a big one and we’ll be trying to get the bonus point win, we have them back to back and it will be another big game the following week, there are two must wins and preferable a bonus point as well.”

Lyttle wants to impress with any opportunities he is given for the rest of the season.

“It would be nice to get training with the senior team a bit more once the Six Nations starts I’m just happy to play for the A’s and I’m still in the academy so hopefully near the end of the season push for a development contract and see what comes my way.”

p European Challenge Cup holders Gloucester maintained their 100 per cent record in this season’s competition by claiming a bonus point 34-22 victory over Worcester at Sixways.

Gloucester tightened their grip on Pool Four as a result, making it three wins out of three to leave group rivals Worcester, Zebre and La Rochelle playing catch-up.

Wing Henry Purdy scored two tries, while there were also touchdowns for full-back Steve McColl, plus substitutes Rob Cook and Billy Twelvetrees, with Scotland international scrum-half Greig Laidlaw adding three conversions and a penalty.

Worcester delivered three tries of their own - wing Dean Hammond, substitute prop Mike Daniels and lock Darren O’Shea the scorers - with fly-half Ryan Lamb booting a drop-goal and two conversions.

The Warriors were level 10-10 at half-time, but they were undone by an imperious attacking display from Gloucester number 10 Billy Burns.