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Versatile Reidy happy to pitch into frantic endgame

champions cup

Jonathan Bradley

Published 23/01/2016

Crunch game: Sean Reidy says Ulster must secure the win over Ouonnax first before they go hunting the bonus point they need
Crunch game: Sean Reidy says Ulster must secure the win over Ouonnax first before they go hunting the bonus point they need
Keeping it in the family: Sean Reidy's uncle, All-Black Rod Ketels

Coming from All Black stock, Sean Reidy is expected to be versatile but the 26-year-old admits it was a bit of a surprise to line out at centre the first time Ulster took on today's opponents Oyonnax.

Reidy's uncle, the prop Rod Ketels, wore the silver fern on five occasions between 1980 and '81 and his flanker nephew has always felt comfortable following him into the family business of forward play.

With Les Kiss having run out of backline replacements in the shadow of the Alps a fortnight ago however, the Aucklander was happy to pitch into the frantic end game at the Stade Charles Mathon.

"I was only out there for five minutes but you've got to be versatile I suppose nowadays," he laughs.

"You never know what's going to happen; we've had Rob Herring coming on at flanker a few times this season.

"You just have to be ready for whatever comes your way.

"Coming on at 12, I didn't get too much opportunity to get involved in the ruck work."

It'll be a different matter this afternoon when Ulster welcome the Top 14 strugglers back to Kingspan (1pm kick-off) for a game they must win with a bonus point to have any hope of a Champions Cup quarter-final place.

Entering the final round of fixtures, the province are ranked fifth of five current second place teams and need at least two of those better positioned to falter if they are to secure a best runners-up spot.

With Chris Henry again missing out with a shoulder complaint, Reidy remains in the openside jersey for what will be his ninth start of the campaign.

He made just three last year with his progress this season justifying the decision to move both himself and his girlfriend across the globe last year.

His rugby career in New Zealand had taken him all the way to ITM Cup level with Counties Manukau but, having failed to progress to Super Rugby, he was on the lookout for a new club.

Keen to explore his Irish heritage - Reidy's grandfather was born in County Kerry before moving to New Zealand - he arrived at Ulster, initially on a short-term basis, and has fully embraced the experience.

"I'm really relishing my time here," he said.

"Chris (Henry) was away at the World Cup and there'll be guys away on international duty with the Six Nations.

"If the coaches have the faith in me to play in the big games (that's great) and I feel like I've repaid a bit of that faith. It's great to play in these games just to see where you really are.

"You really have to take your opportunities when they come."

Despite last week's result against Saracens, Reidy did just that in north London seven days ago, topping the team's tackle charts and winning two turnovers at the breakdown.

"I didn't know until the mid-week I'd be starting but I'd been training with the team all week so it wasn't really anything new," he said.

"I knew the plays really well and everything.

"I like the physical side of the game, especially around that breakdown area.

"I enjoy trying to get over the ball. These last few games that's something that me and Joe Barakat have worked on quite a bit.

"It's still something I'm looking to improve and really work on. That's what they expect from us flankers, to get over the ball, slow it up and get a few turnovers here and there. It's just picking the right spot at the right time."

While acknowledging that his weekend may well involve hours in front of the TV hoping for a slip-up from Ulster's rivals for a quarter-final place, first and foremost it is important that Kiss's men secure the required winning margin.

"We're just looking to play well and stick to our structures. In the back of your mind you want that bonus point but you're not going to go chasing it with silly offloads or anything like that.

"The boys are in a good mindset and we're building well.

"You don't want to be chasing scores, you want to start out well. That is in the back of the mind.

"I suppose if we put a good score together then other teams might look to chase a bit more but we're just focussed on us really.

"Try to get the win first, then hunt down the bonus point. We're just looking forward to getting out there and getting that crowd behind us.

"We haven't been home in a while. It's a big boost."

Belfast Telegraph

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