Sean Doyle keen to make up for Leinster horror
The tan is a bit of a giveaway and, no, Sean Doyle hasn't acquired it the artificial way.
Anything but as the 24-year-old spent his break – after Ulster had signed off on January 17 with their epic Heineken Cup triumph at Welford Road – back home in Australia where, well, it was rather warmer than these parts.
"Yeah it was great," he says smiling at the thought that he had been somewhere where the weather wasn't all about howling wind and rain.
"I had the two weeks back on Oz which was great," Doyle mentions before adding, "there was sun and it was 30 odd degrees every day."
You wonder if he was tempted to maybe miss that flight back and, though he admits it was a bit of a wrench to go, the long haul flight from Sydney was made that bit easier by the knowledge that some valuable game-time should be coming his way.
Ulster's next four matches, to be played without Six Nations stars, starts with tomorrow night's Ravenhill clash with the Ospreys.
"It's always tough saying goodbye to the family but I was very keen to get back and now hopefully help finish the job off," Doyle says, focusing hard on fourth-placed Ulster's push to secure a place in the PRO12 play-offs.
"We've put ourselves in a very good position (in the PRO12) so it would be silly not to go further and make a good job of it," he adds while reflecting on tomorrow night's clash with third-placed Ospreys, who have actually continued playing in the LV Cup while Ulster have rested.
He knows that with Chris Henry away on Ireland duty, this is an opportunity to not only provide adequate cover, and keep Ulster's campaign heading in the right direction, but to also remind Mark Anscombe of his abilities as a player.
Irish-qualified Doyle's last start was in the disappointing league defeat to Leinster at the end of December –when he was sin-binned – so there is plenty of personal motivation to show that good things can happen on his watch.
"It's an opportunity to have a go all right," Doyle, who put in a memorable swallow dive while scoring against Treviso in early December's Heineken Cup clash at Ravenhill, agrees while insisting that he can take nothing for granted regarding his starting place.
"But if you don't deliver there are plenty of other guys who can step up and take their chance.
"At the moment I've just got to do a good job in this game and that's what I've been concentrating on," adds Doyle.
With the Six Nations taking a sizeable cut of frontline players, this a tricky enough time of year for all the sides – the Ospreys are also badly hit – but Doyle insists that despite the handful of top names in Ireland camp, the Ulster squad is well equipped to deal with the situation.
And not only that, but having the players involved with Ireland also has benefits for those that remain at Ravenhill.
"It's a good feeling for the squad as well. You can see somebody going well for Ireland and makes you want to go well too," says Doyle.
"We've got four good weeks to put ourselves in a good position for the PRO12 so that's what we want to do. The Heineken is in the background now, we're in a good spot (in the PRO12) and we've got four games to get four wins."
And with that it's back to the tan and what the chances are of making it to the end of another week.