Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Tom is ready to hold Court in Dragons den

But the affable Australian relishes new experiences and simply can't wait for the next instalment of his sharp learning curve in the dark arts of the front row union, even if it will come in the intimidating and drab surroundings of Rodney Parade in Newport tomorrow night (kick-off 5.30pm).

Tom Court may be more at home in New South Wales rather than the original, slightly less glamorous version.

But the affable Australian relishes new experiences and simply can't wait for the next instalment of his sharp learning curve in the dark arts of the front row union, even if it will come in the intimidating and drab surroundings of Rodney Parade in Newport tomorrow night (kick-off 5.30pm).

Court's upbeat mood is founded in a much-improved scrummaging display on his competitive debut last week in the 31-16 victory over Llanelli.

The previous week the 24-year-old had struggled badly in the friendly against Rotherham against former Belfast Harlequins prop Jarleth Carey and was substituted before half-time.

But against Llanelli, the former Queensland Reds prop, who only took up rugby union two-and-a-half years ago, held his own.

So what was the key to the turnaround?

"We focused a lot more on scrummaging during the week but it was more about just getting back to the technical issues we worked on (with Ireland A) during the Churchill Cup," said Court.

"A lot of it is due to the work I did with Allen Clarke. He had an idea of what he wanted me to do and it was mainly about me just focusing again on the technical side of things - getting my body in the right place and getting my shoulders in the right place.

"I was fairly confident going into the Llanelli game and it turned out well.

"It was still a long way from being perfect obviously but I will just keep working out it."

Court admits the Rotherham game was a personal disappointment to him and being in a new environment can make that even more challenging.

His resilient response is encouraging.

"My confidence took a fairly big blow from the week before but I guess I realised we hadn't done a lot of technical stuff before then," added Court.

"Once we did do a few sessions, I felt a lot more confident."

Court's optimism however will be sorely tested again in the unforgiving venue of Rodney Parade.

Court will be up against Adam Black, an experienced campaigner and he knows just how important it is for Ulster to have a strong set-piece, particularly away from home.

"I am going to be the novice for a long time to come and for me it is about sticking to what I know and doing my technical thing right. It is my first trip away with the team and I am looking forward to it. It is all new and exciting for me. I am happy to be in team for of all but also looking forward to playing over there. "The guys have said the atmosphere over there is fairly intense. But it will be good experience and something I will get used to, being away and playing against the other teams in far-off parts of the UK."

And hopefully winning.

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