Marcus Rea eager to build on dream debut for Ulster

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Debuts don’t come much better than flanker Marcus Rea’s for Ulster, whose try at Kingspan Stadium helped to beat Pro14 champions Leinster last season.

Rea earned the man of the match accolade and he was playing beside his brother Matty.

That was at the back end of last season and now the backrow, who turns 22 on Sunday, is looking for the prefect birthday present by beating Glasgow in Ulster’s first run out of pre season at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday (1.30pm).

Rea said: “It was nice to get on with Matthew and share that moment with him but as soon as Monday rolled around we were all back to square one and fighting for position, to have the family there for that (against Leinster) was lovely.

“It’s been a long pre-season but I’m really looking forward to getting out and picking up where I left off.

“It opened up pretty well for me at the end of last season so I suppose all you can really say is that when an opportunity comes you have to take it,” he added.

“Games like these pre-season games are pretty vital for players like me who are quite young and might not have as many caps, and might not have as many look-ins this season, so this week is pretty big for me but I’m trying to stay relaxed.”

Rea is working hard on and off the pitch to get ready for the start of the season.

“I look back at videos of Richie McCaw and David Pocock just to see the way they play the game - two different players so you get a good contrast from what you are looking for.

“At the start of the week you’re building up your knowledge and sometimes you get it wrong but sometimes it can be the best thing for you when you get it wrong.

“Especially for me in that, when I get it wrong, it’s a perfect incentive for me to then go and get the finer details nailed down,” he said.

“There’s a big squad movement towards everyone getting into the computers and there are hardly any of the computers free for any of the players to get on, you have to be waiting for about 10 minutes to get onto the computer, so there has been a complete psychological change and shift from where it had been.

“I think at this stage you’d have to be hard on yourself but you have to enjoy it and learn to enjoy it as well and there is a time and a place for everything.”

Rea is hoping that new forwards coach Roddy Grant a former flanker can help improve his game.

“He’s brought more experience around the breakdown and I’ve been learning wee things from him, having chats with him and even (analysing) the way he moves as I’ve watched a bit of video of him when he played, looking at the lines he ran.

“He’s played seven as well and that would probably be a position I would look to nail down at some stage.”