Belfast Telegraph

Treadwell is eager to learn all he can from Ulster's big hitters

By Michael Sadlier

Like any young player finding his way in the professional game's unforgiving environment, Kieran Treadwell is open to absorbing everything he can from those around him in order to continually adopt, adapt and improve.

The 21-year-old English-born, but Irish-qualified, lock has clearly been cramming hard in his first season at Ulster and his willingness to be receptive to all aspects of learning his trade seems to be paying off.

A former player with English Premiership side Harlequins, Treadwell made his first Kingspan start - his eighth appearance overall since joining Ulster last summer on a two-year deal - in last Friday's vital 23-7 PRO12 win over inter-provincial rivals Connacht and didn't look out of place.

Though there were a few rougher edges to his game, these will doubtless be ironed out going forward as this promising player continues to progress.

"I thought it went well overall," Treadwell maintained of last Friday. "We knuckled down and got it (the win). But we will be working on a few things from that first half to rectify so that we can be right for Saturday (against Leinster)."

Indeed, Treadwell's next goal is to get another start for the New Year's Eve trip to Leinster, a journey which, bar one regulation league game since the turn of the century, has brought nothing but misery for Ulster.

"We can definitely take that on," Treadwell said without hesitation of meeting what is likely to be a close to full strength Leinster.

"I take any challenge as it comes. I've got good players around me and if we produce a good team performance we'll hopefully get the win.

"Connacht are a tough outfit but we always back ourselves (at the Kingspan) and now we look forward to Leinster who we know are a different machine.

"They like to play and have big ball-carriers.

"So, we have to do our research to get back to firing on all cylinders for this week."

With his game largely based on his strength combined with obvious athleticism - he formerly represented Surrey as a hurdler - Treadwell showed up well against Connacht, and also put in some sterling work at the lineout, but he knows that this week is all about some ever harder graft to prepare for the next rather more formidable inter-provincial.

"We'd had a short turnaround playing on Sunday (at Clermont) and then playing Friday," Treadwell, who has represented both Ireland and England at underage levels, explained. "But we set our goals both short-term and long-term. Obviously we focused on Clermont back-to-back (in Europe) but now to get those two league wins (against Connacht and the earlier Cardiff clash prior to the Clermont games) is good and we're back on track now that we've returned to winning ways."

Talking of winning, what was only Treadwell's second start for Ulster in the Connacht clash - he was also in the side which took the field at Treviso back in the second game of the season in September - leads to some further discussion of how things had gone for him on a difficult night weather wise.

"I thought it went well," Treadwell said of his 80 minutes against Connacht.

"My legs felt a bit tired alright but I thought the boys put in a good effort.

"We got the win and though it wasn't pretty in the first half, in the second half we came out strong and carried on throughout.

"The conditions were tough to start with as the heavens opened but towards the end it died down a bit.

"But we knew it (the weather) would be pretty bad so we structured our game around that."

Treadwell added: "We'd worked at putting pressure on their lineout. We thought it was a good place that we could target and we targeted the scrum as well.

"We dug deep and the boys came out on top and that gave us a good platform to play off."

Whether all this works quite as well against the might of Leinster - Connacht came into the game without several key players and then lost a few more to injury to further disrupt them -remains to be seen but Treadwell is admirably confident that Les Kiss' men can upset the odds and do a job at the RDS.

As ever, though, it all comes back to where he currently stands in the scheme of things. Injuries have opened the door for Treadwell and he has impressed Kiss with his two bench appearances in the European Champions Cup against Clermont.

Yes, but there is still so much to learn and achieve before becoming a regular starter in the side.

"I think as a young player I need to move on but I also need to keep looking up to boys like Franco (Van der Merwe) and Pete (Browne) and Hendy (Iain Henderson) and literally be a sponge and soak up every bit of information they have," he said.

"It's so very valuable learning from them."

And, in Treadwell, Ulster have a willing and ambitious pupil who badly wants to make the grade.

Belfast Telegraph

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