Luke Marshall made a triumphant try scoring return to the Ulster team in a 24-21 pre-season defeat against Leinster at the Kingspan Stadium.
The Irish centre hadn’t played for the province since an away game against the Scarlets at the end of February due to a combination of suspension and injury, although he did play for Ireland against the Barbarians.
Marshall’s superb solo try helped Ulster into a 14-5 lead at the interval as he played the first 40 minutes.
“I was supposed to be fit but I was blowing out there but it’s good to get back playing again,” smiled Marshall, mindful of the presence of Head Coach Neil Doak beside him.
“It’s good to get a little bit of the rustiness out, I suppose there were some good positives to take out of the game.
“We scored some good tries and did some positive things and have some positives to work on.
“We now have another hit-out against Edinburgh and hopefully take that towards the Ospreys.
“It was about getting the hit-out and there were two different teams.
“There were times when our concentration let us down and against a good team like that when you lose concentration you’re going to be punished.
“We’ve got to learn quickly, move on for the next game and hopefully put in a better performance and move on to the Ospreys.”
Marshall was happy to get over the line.
“I didn’t think I’d the gas to get there and I’m glad it was a hooker and not a winger there.”
With Ulster likely to be missing players during the World Cup Marshall knows he still has a fight on his hands to get a place in the starting line up.
“Even though the World Cup is on and maybe a couple of boys away there is serious quality like Sammy (Arnold) and Stu McCloskey and other guys are pushing hard for places so there is a lot of hard work to be done.”
Ireland U20 centre Arnold enhanced his growing reputation by scoring Ulster’s third try against Leinster. It may have been a late consolation but the Surrey born 19-year-old done enough in the second half to put his hand up for selection when the Pro12 against the Ospreys next week.
“It was great to get a try but I’m sure we’ll review the game and try to tidy things up for Edinburgh and try to get things back on track, hopefully that will be the cobwebs out of the water now,” said Arnold.
“With regards to the world cup for me personally if Cavey (Darren Cave) Jared (Payne) are away there is still a bundle of talent left Luke, Stuart (McCloskey) and Stuart Olding is coming back, if I have to be patient then I’m willing to be patient and if I’m given an opportunity I do everything I can to take it.
“It’s a good environment to work in I couldn’t ask for a better group of lads to help me out, Humps, Lukey and Doaky always trying to help me out in training and trying to get the best out of me and push me which is need and what you need as a young player coming through.”
Ulster go to Edinburgh – who defeated Ireland’s second Pool D World Cup opponents, Romania, in a friendly on Saturday – with what will be a more structured approach.
Doak will still look to give as many players as possible game time given that the first Guinness PRO12 game is in Belfast a week later against Ospreys following by a trip to Wales to face Scarlets before a four week break due to the World Cup.
However, by the time the opener arrives Doak will know which internationals will be returning from the Irish camp and just how strong he is likely to be going into what will be an important few weeks.