Andrew admits he's fighting for his Ulster future
Ricky Andrew is preparing for yet another all-important season.
He knows that his future with Ulster hinges on how he fares in 2014-15.
He also knows that with so much competition for the number 15 shirt, chances may well be limited. In the circumstances it is vital that he grabs them as and when they come along.
"It's a one-year contract I'm on so I suppose everything is about proving yourself. It's the same as last year when I had a one-year development contract.
"This time it's a one-year full (contract) so if I want to stay on a bit longer I'll definitely have to lay down a bit of a marker and try to prove that I can play every week if they'll let me," said the full-back who will turn 25 at the start of December.
Asked about the pressure he is under as a result of having from now until June 2015 to persuade Ulster to offer a new contract, he replied: "That's true, but then I'm used to it because last year was a one-year deal and before it was the Academy and coming to the end of my tenure there as well.
"I'm well used to the idea that every game is important. Every game is important to us; because there's such a good squad and so many good players it's not often that you'll get to play every game.
"With a bit of rotation in there you know you have to play your best and you want to do that, especially at home at the new Kingspan (Stadium).
"You want to be performing, you want to be doing everything special that you can to get the crowd cheering and saying 'Wow'. That's a big thing for me – it builds confidence as well.
"Hopefully this year I can push on and see what I can get from it."
Insisting that he welcomes such challenges, Andrew said: "That's good because it's healthy competition. It's good in training where we push each other on. Nothing's easy and that's good – you don't want to be getting too comfortable in there. That's the way we're looking to build."
Like every other Ulster player, Andrew has had to adapt to the departure of coach Mark Anscombe and a number of big-name players.
"There's been a lot of changes and a lot of new faces have come in," he said.
"A lot of the guys who have left brought a lot of experience in the past and I suppose some people might say that could make us underdogs.
"But we might think of it differently and say this is a chance for all of us to improve and lay down a marker to say that we're as good as the players who were here before. I suppose that's a challenge to everyone in the squad.
"We'll be looking to continue on with the goals that we've had in the past few seasons – being in the final of the Rabo and the Heineken Cup.
"We have the coaches to do it – Dinger (Jonny Bell), Doakie (Neil Doak) and Clarkie (Allen Clarke) have been in there for the past few years and we've been able to do it so it's just whether players accept that challenge.
"I suppose it's all down to us, really."