Fired-up Darren Cave ready to take centre stage for Ulster
Ulster's clash with the Scarlets is going to serve up a fierce battle in midfield, says Ulster centre Darren Cave.
Hero in the game against league leaders the Ospreys last month - scoring two tremendous tries - the 27-year-old is hoping to emulate his success again this week.
But it won't be without a fight.
Making his first appearance for the Scarlets since their season opener against Ulster in September, centre Regan King looks set to return in Saturday's game after the New Zealander made a welcome return to the squad after sustaining a hamstring injury - and Cave knows his calibre all too well.
"I played against him a few times when we were over in Clermont and then again when he was back here with Clermont and he's probably one of the classiest players I've played against," he admitted.
"I've played against him head to head in the centre before but he hasn't played every week for them this year so we're not sure who will be playing there for them but (Fijian wing) Michael Tagicakibauhas played well for them too, so whoever they have in the midfield, I'm sure will be a pretty handy player."
After facing a surprising 14-8 defeat at the hands of Connacht last week, the Scarlets will no doubt be all guns blazing this Saturday at Kingspan but Cave is looking forward to the challenge.
"From a backs point of view, the Scarlets are a great team to play against. I think there was eight tries in the match back in September and, thinking of the two Williams boys (Scott and Jordan), I think it's going to be the kind of game that is going to be good to try and test yourself against big players."
In spite of adverse weather conditions in recent home fixtures which have forced the squad to contend with cold, wind and rain, and often a slippery pitch, Cave insists that Ulster can deliver regardless of the potentially tricky weather.
"Normally I enjoy playing when it's dry but that doesn't often happen. Whatever the weather throws at us, we'll be ready. We're a very rounded team," he said.
"I think we've been pretty solid up-front and we've got a really solid back line too so whatever the weather throws at us, we'll be ready to play appropriately."
While Cave was disappointed not to feature in Ireland's thrilling 26-23 autumn international win over Australia, despite returning from holiday in New York to fulfil his late call-up duty, Ulster were certainly glad that they were able to call on his services at outside centre for the Ospreys game while he was home.
But with such huge competition from likes of Stuart McCloskey and the injured Luke Marshall for the centre role, Cave is just grateful that he is being selected as part of Neil Doak's squad - and he isn't prepared to let those opportunities go to waste.
"The backlog and talent we have at centre this year is pretty ridiculous. To think that there's been a couple of centres to leave us recently is pretty remarkable - there seems to be a bit of a production line there.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm just happy to be playing. I'm not worried about who's inside me or outside me, as long as I'm in the team."