When Ulster came knocking on lock Peter Browne’s door he had no hesitation in moving to Belfast which just happens to be the city of his father’s birth.
Browne was born in Bristol but still has family in Belfast and they will be there on Friday evening as he makes his first home start for Ulster against Treviso in the Guinness PRO12 at the Kingspan Stadium.
“Opportunity and family history brought me to Ulster,” he explained.
“My dad (Leonard) is from Belfast, he captained Ulster schools’ and played for Irelands schools’ then went to University in Cambridge.
“For me I having being coming over to Belfast all my life to see family so I’m half Irish.”
Browne added: “My father went to BRA and played rugby with Iain Henderson and Stuart Olding’s dads so he has some history over here.
“He went to Cambridge University and played rugby and got a Blue in athletics. He was a shot-putter and discus thrower, he played a lot of Blues rugby but wasn’t fit for the Varsity game and then he stayed in England.”
Browne excelled at a number of sports but chose rugby.
“I played all sports. I started off playing football, I played for Cambridge United youth team then I moved onto a bigger school and started playing rugby.
“I played County hockey, I played a lot of cricket and golf. I just loved sport and it was probably when I was 16 or 17 that I realised, with the help of my dad and family that I wanted to pursue rugby if it was possible and that’s when I focused on it.
“I was in the Ireland U20 extended squad. I was straight out of school and trying to play for the U20’s.
“It was a very strong year and I didn’t get picked. I bulked up put on some weight and that is when I started to get noticed more and that is when I was at Durham University.
“From school I went to the Gloucester Academy as I lived in Cheltenham. I was there for the summer they wanted me to stay but I wanted to get a degree so I went to Durham and they put me in touch with the Newcastle Falcons.
“I worked my way up through the academy and got a senior contract in my third year at uni.
“I stayed for a year then went to Harlequins and I played three there but I was injury prone and didn’t play as much rugby as I wanted. I injured my knee and ripped my pelvis.”
“I wanted to play more rugby so I signed for London Welsh when I thought they were going to stay in the Premiership.
“I had a great year in the Championship winning it but last year was tough but I played a lot of rugby and I managed to get spotted by Ulster.”
Browne has been impressed with live at Kingspan.
“It is a real honour to be here and I’m really excited about my future here.
“The Premiership is very professional but this is a different level.
“The facilities at the club, the way te club is run by Shane Logan and the vision in the club, coming into this you see it’s bigger than just rugby.
“It’s about community and Ulster as a whole and about bringing people together and you can see that on a Friday night when there are massive crowds.”
“It is a step up from what I have been involved in.”
Browne endured a nightmare season with London Welsh last season.
They finished bottom of the Premiership losing all 22 games and conceding over a 1000 points.
“It somethings you don’t want to think about too much, it feels like a bad dream now the strength of it was it was a good group of players and we did fight for each other but I think there were a number of issues that effected how things happened and part of that was money.
“In terms of spirit there is a lot there and I enjoyed my time at London Welsh and I learned a lot.
“You learn a lot about yourself when it is not going well, do you really want to do this and you come out the other end and say that is never going to happen again.”
Browne wants Ulster to bounce back from defeat at the Scarlets last time out.
“It’s great to be starting and it is an opportunity for me, the coaches and players still need to see the best of me so I need to take my opportunity.
“The Scarlets was disappointing. Our clinical edge wasn’t there in terms of the number of turnovers we had and that is not acceptable for a team like us.
“But we’re looking forward and we have game on Friday night against tough opposition and we will looking to be clinical.”
Brown can play at blindside flanker but is hoping to nail down a spot at lock.
“I can play at six but I think as I get older lock is where I will probably stay because I can be an athletic lock rather than a slow six but I’d play anywhere.
“Lock is a really competitive area and that pushes you. We realise were a squad as well and we are pushing each other every day to be better.”
Browne is looking forward to challenging himself against Europe’s elite.
“You want to play at the highest level possibly and the possibility of that is massive, the Champions Cup is an exciting prospect.”