Stuart Olding is looking for a fresh start on Friday night when he makes his eagerly anticipated return to playing after injury setbacks for Ulster ‘A’ in the British & Irish Cup game at Bristol.
The 23-year-old has 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.
If the exciting centre - who already has two Irish caps and was tipped to become a regulare feature in the National side - can come through Friday’s game he will almost certainly feature in Ulster’s away game to Benetton Treviso in Italy next Saturday in the Guinness PRO12.
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.
Olding can play out half and full back makes his return at outside centre.
Ulster are already out of the running in their goup in the B&I Cup , but many of the players selected for tonight’s game will want to put up a good showing with PRO12 places up for grabs during the Six Nations including lock Peter Browne who’s first season in Belfast has been interrupted by injured.
“I’d really love to push for a first team place. I’ve had a couple of injuries and I just hope to keep working and play well on Friday and put my hand up,” said Browne.
“I think it’s massively important to us as a team (to sign off with a win in Bristol).
“I wasn’t here last year but I think the strides we’ve made as a group have been massive and we’re looking to put in a good performance, on a good pitch and against a good team in front of a reasonably big crowd and enjoy that.”
Ulster are looking to do the double over the English Championship leaders after beating them at Kingspan Stadium in the opening game but two defeats against Bedford and one at home to the Scarlets Premier Select means Alex Codling’s side can’t reach the last eight.
Olding is partnered in Midfield by Sam Windsor while the other chance in the backline see Conor Young replace Dave Shanahan at scrum half.
In the pack Stephen Mulholland returns at blindside flanker while in the front row Ross Kane replaces Bronson Ross at tight head prop.
Bristol can still make the quarter finals but would need a big win and an unlikely chain results to go their way.