Stuart McCloskey wants to do his talking in Europe with Ulster

Stuart McCloskey makes a line break during the PRO14 clash between Ulster and ConnachtStuart McCloskey makes a line break during the PRO14 clash between Ulster and Connacht
Stuart McCloskey makes a line break during the PRO14 clash between Ulster and Connacht
Stuart McCloskey just wants to keep getting better with Ulster and if it opens doors again into the Ireland team he will go with the flow.

The Ulster centre has put in some impressive displays this season, adding further to his game with off loading and improved defence.

Having won two senior caps, McCloskey was left out in the cold by Ireland chief Joe Schmidt.

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And while he has been told “bits and pieces” to work on to make the Irish boss happy, but McCloskey does not appear to be overly concerned.

There is no doubt there is a wealth of talent in the Irish midfield, but there are fine margins between making the cut and not.

McCloskey admits he is not really sure what he needs to do to get back in and he certainly is not sure why he may have been thrown under a bus by Schmidt after breaking into the side.

In terms of work-ons, McCloskey highlighted ball security and defence for him.

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“Both have come on leaps and bounds I feel,” said McCloskey.

“Jared (Payne) has worked very hard with me for a lot of defensive things and it shows he has more confidence in me as I was at 13 against Connacht.

“I’ve only ever defended at 12. It’s coming on and hopefully I’ll get a look-in at some stage but I just want to keep playing well here.”

He expands further: “At 12 there is more security and you’re not on the outside edge and the winger is playing off you quite a lot and you have to communicate with the guys inside you.

“I’ve got better at that with age and experience.

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“It’s probably better putting me out there than playing Angus (Curtis) there in his fourth game and he’s only ever really played 12 and 10. So, backs to the wall really but it was a good experience.”

If his impressive performances for Ulster to date can be continued into the next shop window, the Heineken European Champions Cup, then one never knows what could happen next.

But the target for McCloskey is clear over the next two weeks as first, Leicester Tigers visit Kingspan Stadium on Saturday before the Province head to France to meet Racing 92 in their opening Pool Four games.

Interestingly, it was only last season he got a full European programme.

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“Yeah, I’ve always been injured as it’s quite hard to stay fit for all of them between October and January.

“I love this competition. I grew up watching it and there is always a buzz on European weeks.

“To play Leicester, Scarlets and Racing those are all massive games.

“Hopefully we get the win (on Saturday), stay in the competition and push for the quarters.

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“I played against them last time at Welford Road, my first European game and I got hoked off after about 50 minutes for wee Stu (Olding).

“I then got injured against the Scarlets, who were weirdly in that group too that year, when Deccie Fitzpatrick decided to destroy my elbow.

“Tigers are a great team with a great history in the competition.

“We know how dangerous they can be as well. They are basically full of world class players, a few Lions and a lot of internationals and they’ll but up from last week and I think they’ve won three out of six as well so it should be pretty tight here,”

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While Leicester have wining form, Ulster are smarting from back to back losses to Munster and Connacht.

McCloskey feels last week was not far away and it is a case of executing things better and not allowing the game to get into the referee’s hands.