Ulster’s James Hume has baptism of fire in first Pro14 game in South Africa

Ulster centre James Hume.
Ulster centre James Hume.
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It was quite an experience for Ulster centre James Hume against the Cheetahs last Saturday.

The game was the former Schools Cup winner’s first time in South Africa, his first time playing at altitude, and e scored his first try for the province before having to go off with a bloody nose after being head-butted.

Hume is enjoying being away in the Rainbow Nation for Ulster’s two Pro14 games.

“I really like it, I live with the Curtis brothers (Angus and Graham) who went to school in South Africa so I hear a lot from them about the food and all that kind of stuff,” he said.

“I’m really enjoying it, I thought it looked kind of like Spain when we were in our first hotel because we were quite isolated, but here in Cape Town the city looks quite good.

Hume found playing at altitude in the 63-26 defeat to the Cheetahs difficult.

“I don’t know about any of the other lads but I definitely felt a difference - you’re blowing gas around 60 minutes in; it was very, very tough, probably the toughest game I’ve ever played.

“I think it’s going to be a bit different this week; obviously it’ll be easier to breathe so that’s good for us. The Kings are very similar to the Cheetahs, they’re very dangerous if you let them run, so we have our game plan set in place.”

After conceding nine tries in Bloemfontein Hume knows Ulster must improve defensively.

“It was tough, it’s little small things from individuals but nothing that we can’t work on.

“It was a tough review to go through but the boys know what we did wrong, so we’re all ready to go this week to iron out those problems.”

Hume’s first Ulster try in his 13th appearance was a bittersweet moment.

“You always come away feeling half-and-half if you’re happy with your own performance, but the team didn’t get what we wanted out of there; obviously the team is the main priority, so that’s where we hope we get some more cohesion this week and play better.

“We have individual goals before the game and mine usually revolve around defenders beaten, carries and tackle percentage.”

tries have never been up there, especially as a centre.”

With injuries in the Ulster backline Hume is determined to make the most of any game time.

“I’m 21 so any opportunity I get I’m going to take it, no matter what happens there; if someone gets injured I can come straight in with no lag time, that’s my main priority at this stage.

“If you don’t have a good performance, it’s hard to still be in (Dan’s) eyes, so every time you get an opportunity you have to grasp it: you’ve got to stand out as much as possible so he can trust you in that shirt when other players aren’t there.”

Ulster want to get back to winning ways against the Kings.

Hume said: “We know what happened and we know how to fix it, that’s training for us this week: to get back to normal and put in a big performance in Port Elizabeth this weekend.”