Scrum half Dave Shanahan is relishing the chance to help Ulster A get their British and Irish Cup Campaign back on track in Wales against the Scarlets Premiership Select on Saturday afternoon.
Alex Codling’s side are third in Pool 2 five points behind leaders Bedford.
“We had a tight lose against Bedford and we were unlucky not to come away with a bonus point,” said Shanahan.
“The result didn’t say how the game went and we could have easily taken it, we had a really good win against Bristol in the first game so there has been a lot of good signs and there is a good buzz around the team.
“It’s really important to get the win in both games and hopefully a bonus point as well.”
The Welsh side are bottom of the group having conceded 97 points in their opening two games.
“We have done a bit of video on them over the last couple of weeks and they look a handy outfit, they have a few boys who have Pro12 and European experience they won’t be any push over and we’re expecting a tough battle,” Shanahan added.
“We watched their first two games; against Bedford it was pretty tight up to the last 10 minutes and it was the same against Bristol and they had a really strong team out.
“Scarlets were up after 34 minutes so we know it isn’t going to come quickly and we’re going to have to grind them down and hopefully the win will come at the end.”
Shanahan is hoping to impress in the B & I Cup to get more chances with the senior team.
“I played a few games at the start of the year and I was on the back for a few but with Ruan back now you get pushed back down,” he said.
“I’m playing a bit of club rugby but these are the games that Les and Doaky and all the rest of the coaches will be looking at.
“It is a good place for young guys like myself to impress and hopefully I can this week.”
Shanahan is partnered at half back by Sam Windsor.
The Ballymena pivot is hoping the new emphasis placed on the A team can help them reach the quarter final.
“Last year was tough, this year there is a different vibe to the team. Kieran is here again and he is great and is a great skills coach and he has a lot of experience, Alex as head coach has brought a great energy,” he said.
“He is always enthusiastic he knows his stuff and as he says himself he is an old school kind of guy and brings a good mindset to the team.”
Shanahan is enjoying working with former Ulster scrum half Kieran Campbell.
“I’ve known Kieran for a good while now. I’ve been working with him since my first day in the academy, he’s hard on me but that is exactly what I need as a scrum half,” he said.
“The skills need to be prefect and I need to get into the forwards and he is on my back and it is great to have him around.”
Ballynahinch’s Aaron Cairns comes onto the wing with Rob Lyttle on the other.
Callum Patterson and Mark Best are reunited in midfield after starting in the win against Bristol while Jonny McPhillips completes the back line.
Callum Black starts at loosehead, John Andrew is at hooker and Johnny Simpson is given the nod at tight head.
Ballymena’s Matty Rea is given a chance in the second row with Lewis Stevenson, Willie Faloon captains the side with Stephen Mulholland at blindside flanker and Sean Reidy at No8.
Ulster A squad to play a Scarlets Premiership Select, British & Irish Cup, Parc y Scarlets, Saturday 12th December, 3.00pm:
(15-9): J McPhillips; A Cairns, C Patterson, M Best, R Lyttle; S Windsor, D Shanhan; (1-8): C Black, J Andrew, J Simpson, L Stevenson, M Rea, S Mulholland, W Faloon (captain), S Reidy;
Replacements (16-22): J Murphy, R Murphy, R Kane, J Donnan, C Joyce, P Rowley, A Magrath.