Stuart McCloskey produced a ‘Man of the Match’ performance as Ulster kicked off their Guinness PRO14 campaign with a last-gasp 15-13 win over Scarlets at Kingspan Stadium.
John Cooney’s last-minute penalty gave new head coach Dan McFarland a victorious start with McCloskey’s industrious performance in midfield catching the eye with the Irish centre carrying 12 times for over 50 metres.
“I just tried to give the guys something to go to, Billy if there is nothing else on will give me the ball and I’ll try to do something and get the guys going forward again and that is what I’ve been trying to do,” said McCloskey.
“Personally I want to be playing that offloading game, I want to try and get through contact and get guys running of me and I think the tries will come there was definitely chances out there.”
“They give away a few cynical penalties so they did and we could have kicked to the corner and maybe put pressure on them but we took the points and it paid off in the end as we won by two.”
In spite of being only 26 McCloskey has made over 80 appearances for Ulster as is regarded as senior player and he is happy to mentor the young guns coming through the production line.
“I think there are a lot of senior guys to set an example, Al is the same age as me, you have Hendy and Marcell there is no really leader set everyone just follows everyone there are no really senior guys we all just follow each other.”
“I try to make the young backs feel at home, I know what I felt like at 20/21 when I came into the system and they are even younger guys like Aaron Sexton and Stewart Moore are 17/18 so I don’t know how they feel.”
“I went down to Bangor Grammar to do a bit of coaching and saw Aaron Sexton at school and I’m just trying to be a good lad and I think that is what most of the squad is like.”
Ulster are back at Kingspan Stadium on Friday night to face Edinburgh who lost their opener against the Ospreys and McCloskey feels if the side put in the same preparation as they for the Scarlets they can make it two wins on the bounce.
“I think the training week last week was very good and the last detail going into the second day of training everyone knew what they were doing already we didn’t have to wait to get our shit together.”
“I think if we carry that on and keep the detail up we’ll be fine.”