Ulster star Darren Cave set for 200-cap milestone

Ulster's ''Darren Cave
Ulster's ''Darren Cave

Darren Cave will become the sixth Ulster player to reach the 200 cap milestone on Saturday evening when he starts against Connacht at the Sportsground in the Guinness PRO14..

Cave made his debut against the Border Reivers in 2007 and has amassed 209 points in the white shirt, he has also won 11 Ireland caps and went to the 2015 world cup.

Cave said: “It’s cool, it’s been a long time coming, I’m not getting too carried away with it.

“I haven’t played as much rugby as I would have wanted to this year, and I want to try and do my bit to help the team win, it’s a tough place to go, I can worry about the accolades when I’m retired.

“It’s not about me, 200 is cool but we need to keep winning, I use Rory (Best)as a example, a special night for him and then we put in a performance like that as a group, to let him down like that, to be beaten so softly and convincingly as we were by Leinster at home.

“It’s all hands on deck to make sure we perform, it’s not about me, it’s about Connacht, if we get our stuff right we can put them under pressure.”

“We’ve an okay record down there, but we lost last year so they know they can beat us, it’s an incredibly tough place to go but if get our stuff right we know we can be a tough team to beat.”

Cave finds it difficult to pinpoint the highlights of a career that has spanned a decade.

“It would be hard, thankfully there’s been a lot. Some good and bad, playing in a few quarter-finals like Munster stands out, the semi-final against Edinburgh having all the fans there and the final was pretty spectacular as well.

“Unfortunately for me a couple of games stand out for the wrong reasons and what could have been and trophies that we maybe should have had in our cabinet that we don’t, but it would be hard to pick one.

“For me it’s probably just a wee time to be thankful to all the people who have helped me get there.

“People talk about how much players sacrifice but I think my friends and my family and my mum and dad and team-mates over the years give you a lot more to put you in that position so I am just very thankful and hopefully the important thing is that we get some league points.”

Connacht have won five and lost two in all competitions at the Sportsground and Cave is expecting another tough encounter in Galway where Ulster lost 30-25 last season.

“Conditions are tough but it is something we are quite used to because the Kingspan isn’t the easiest place to play.

“I think they are a good side, you would be selling Connacht sort if you started talking about the conditions and the crowd before you talk about the quality they produce on the field.

“To win the league a couple of years ago you don’t do that because you place in a place that is windy, they are a good side.

“We know how physical they are, having been round a lot of the players over the years and having trained with Ireland at the Sportsground we know what they are all about, we know what they pride themselves on.”

“It’s not all about the weather it’s about 15 angry and proud me trying to defend their patch.”

Cave is likely to come up against Bundee Aki in the midfield battle.

“I have played against a couple of times before, he is a very good player and had a very good autumn.

“I actually think in the autumn we didn’t see the best of him ball in hand he defended pretty well, he’s a quality player, you have to enjoy playing against good players.

“I have slipped down the pecking order a wee bit for me I think it is a good opportunity to play against someone who is one of the best if not the best in the middle in Ireland,” added Cave.