Ulster's new South African lock Johann Muller has more reason than most to anticipate the start of the season.
The former Natal Shark will captain the province tonight on his debut against Bath in a pre season friendly at Ravenhill but it will also be his first game since breaking his arm in a Super 14 game against the Bulls in Pretoria.
“I just want to get on out the pitch and get some game time, also I'm coming back from injury and haven't played for about five months so I'm excited about playing tonight,” said Muller.
“I'm coming in to play for a new club and that is something I am really looking forward to and hopefully I can do my talking on the field.
“I broke my arm and it's been nearly five months, it's going really well and it's about 90% there, obviously I'm going to be a bit rusty against Bath but that is what these pre season games are there for to make sure that when the league starts we are ready to go,” added the Springbok.
“I started doing full contact in Portugal last week which was good although the arm is a little bit sore from that but I'm just excited to get back on the field again and play some rugby.”
With Chris Henry and Rory Best unavailable, coach Brian McLaughlin hands the skipper's armband to Muller who captained South Africa against the All Blacks in 2007 and the big second row is relishing the challenge.
“I've always enjoyed the leadership responsibility, I love working with people and especially with a young squad like Ulster's and it is great to see the amount of talent here.”
“If we can look after these guys and bring them through the system I think in the years to come Ulster are going to have a wonderful side, I really enjoy the captaincy and I have an opportunity tonight although I'm just standing in, it's really exciting and I'm looking forward to it.”
Muller is looking forward to playing rugby in the Northern Hemisphere as he thinks it will benefit his skill set more.
“It's great to see that the team with the stronger scrum, lineout and defence still comes out on top here, it will suit my game better and I want to get out and play some good rugby.”
The Ulster pack will have a huge South African influence this season along with Muller there is BJ Botha, Robbie Diack and Pedrie Wannenburg while scrum half Ruan Pienaar is set to join the squad in September.
“BJ has been a great mate of mine and when we were at the Sharks we were room mates for about nine years so we know each other really well.”
“They have banned us from speaking Afrikaans so we won't be doing that but it doesn't matter which country you’re from if you're a good rugby player and you can benefit the side then you are the right man for the job.”
“We have to come in and gain respect because as rugby players we haven't achieved anything yet and it's important that we do on talking on the pitch tonight.”