Stuart McCloskey ready to seize the moment with Ulster

Ulster's Stuart McCloskey
Ulster's Stuart McCloskey

It has been a somewhat frustrating season on the whole for talented young centre, Stuart McCloskey.

However, although he had 16 weeks out, 12 of them with an injury and four on a controversial ban for a red card offence in a game, the midfielder was still named BT Young Ulster Player of the Season at the recent club awards.

He has been a feature recently in the Ulster matchday squad every week, regularly coming off the bench and usually with impressive impact.

But McCloskey, who has been tipped as a future Irish international centre, while happy to be involved is hoping he can be a regular starter.

For now he will have to bide his time as Jared Payne and Darren Cave occupy the 12 and 13 shirts.

However, with Ulster opting to rotate the squad for this weekend’s final regular season Guinness PRO12 league game in Glasgow, McCloskey is set for a start and he is not going to miss out on a chance to stake his claim for a start in next week’s semi-final wherever and whoever that may be against.

McCloskey said: “It has been great to be involved and I am hoping to get a bit more game time this week

“It would give me the chance to show myself and put my hand up for semi-final selection.

“Ulster is a great place to be at the moment and although there is disappointment from last weekend, it is still great to know that we have a semi-final to play no matter what happened then or what happens this weekend.”

The last gasp draw with Munster last weekend in Belfast ended a dramatic game.

However, Ulster still remained in fourth place in the table a point behind Munster, Glasgow and Ospreys, all on 70 points each.

Ulster are now relying on other results going their way on Saturday as well as getting a victory against Glasgow at Scotstoun.

“It does not matter what happened last week, we are going all out to get the win this week,” said McCloskey.

“We know that we are now relying on results elsewhere going our way to get a home semi-final, but we have to make sure we play our part in the equation and that means winning in Glasgow.”

For the first time in PRO12 history the organisers decided to have a ‘fixed venue’ final announced earlier in the season as the Kingspan Stadium and that is a huge carrot for Ulster.

“We will worry about the semi-final next week, but obviously no matter what happens this weekend, we will be going all out to make sure we are in that final,” added McCloskey.

As for the future, McCloskey knows there are few opportunities left this season, but he wants to make sure he is involved in the final run-in.

However, he does not want to be known as the impact player of the bench.

“Some people had told me I have been getting reasonable Press recently and I am happy enough with how things are going.

“But as long as the coaches are happy with how things are going that is all that matters to be.

“It is nice to be mentioned in a positive way, but it only really matters if the coaches thing the same. I have just got to keep working hard.”