Stuart Olding made his long awaited return from a serious knee injury with the Ulster ‘A’ team in the British & Irish Cup and the talented back is now hoping to stake his claim for a starting place in the senior side’s backline.
The 23-year-old basically missed two full seasons as a pro-player having been plagued by serious injuries.
It has potentially also seen him miss two Six Nations Championships and a Rugby World Cup.
He has youth on his side, but Olding will be hoping for a decent run of games from now until the end of the season.
Olding’s injury nightmare started in a game with the Ulster ‘A’ team in 2013-14 when he ruptured his ACL.
That saw him miss the remainder of the season.
His comeback was short in 2014-15, he suffered an elbow injury against Toulon in the European Champions Cup which saw him sidelined for 10 weeks.
At the end of March the jinx returned and he suffered another season-ending ACL injury.
Now after a long way back Olding will be hoping his luck will change.
His return came last week when he started for Ulster ‘A’ in the British & Irish Cup defeat to Bristol last Friday.
Olding scored a try and his general overall play caught the eye of director of rugby, Les Kiss.
Olding is now expected to start in the midfield alongside Darren Cave against Treviso in the Guinness PRO12.
There is an abundance of talent in the Ulster backline, but with Stuart McCloskey and Luke Marshall both included in the Ireland Six Nations squad there should be opportunity for Olding.
Olding can play centre, fullback, outhalf and could fill in on the wing if needed.
As far as he is concerned he will play anywhere.
“I am excited just to be getting out there to play again,” said Olding.
“I will play wherever at the minute. I will be happy for them (coaches) to fit me in anywhere.”
But he added: “But I would like to be able to nail down the 12 shirt.”
Kiss said: “Stuart coming back into the fray for us is brilliant.
“We know what he can do and what he can deliver and I think from his own perspective last week getting through the game, putting the try on and getting strongly involved was important for him going forwards.”