Ulster v Uruguay: Young Ulster stars told to grasp opportunity with both hands

Michael Lowry hopes to be fit for Ulster against Uruguay
Michael Lowry hopes to be fit for Ulster against Uruguay

The rising talent that is currently emerging in Ulster has been told to grasp the opportunity of facing Uruguay on Friday night with both hands.

It is 10 years since an international team played against Ulster in Belfast and on Friday evening at Kingspan Stadium the Province will take on South American side Uruguay in a special fixture (7.30pm).

Ulster face Uruguay in Belfast

Ulster face Uruguay in Belfast

Ulster Academy manager, Kieran Campbell, who is acting up as head coach for the fixture has indicated Ulster will name a matchday team later today featuring “a reasonably experienced side mixed with a young blend.”

Uruguay are ranked 18th in World Rugby and are using the game as part of their preparations for next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.

This will be the fourth time they have qualified for the final stages and it is a wonderful opportunity for not only the young Ulster stars to pit themselves against a senior international side, but also provides the public with a chance to see one of next year’s finalists - even if the visitors are a Tier Two nation.

Uruguay may have lost 45-21 to Cardiff Blues on Tuesday night in the Welsh capital but Campbell was expecting a stiff challenge.

“It is a fairly serious game on Friday in that as some guys have to realise that this is their opportunity to impress Dan McFarland (head coach) and be in his thinking going forward,” said Campbell.

“There are two things to this in that it doesn’t matter who we play or when we play, if you perform then Dan is more than willing to give opportunities.

“so it is not just going out and taking that as a game on Friday, the boys need to perform, both the seniors and Academy, to get opportunities on the seniors side, particularly in the international window as anything can happen as we already know.

“The other thing for us, and its massive, is that we have been blooding guys and making sure they are ready to step up as others have done and be successful.

“We’re starting to develop (through the Academy) guys of the requisite level to play for Ulster and we’re delighted with the caps they’re getting - and they’re not just getting them, they’re performing when they’re getting them and being part of some successful results.

“We want to produce guys who are going to perform week after week and reach Champions Cup standard. Jacob Stockdale is the perfect example of the calibre of player we want to produce,” he said.

Campbell added: “For us as a Province it is great to have a national team here that is going to the World Cup.

“Hopefully people will come, enjoy it and understand it is a game with gravatus, they are going to the World Cup and they are in a very strong pool in Japan

“We are another part of their preparation for a World Cup game. It is a special feeling to be coming up against a National side.

“We do not get it very often, so that gives it a different feel.

“The other good thing too is that you are getting a different culture and style to play against.”

Campbell went on: “Uruguay are a big physical side who play with a lot of tempo, so when you have got a side like ours with still a lot to prove, but are a little bit younger and will play with a lot of tempo too, you are going to get a nice contrast there and a pretty exciting game to watch.”

Enniskillen winger, Robert Baloucoune, who made his senior debut two weeks ago is almost certain to miss the game due to concussion.