Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Nevin Spence epitomised Ulster passion: Neil Doak

Nevin Spence with Ulster team-mate Nigel Brady back in December 2010
Nevin Spence on the family farm. Pacemaker press
A book of condolence is opened at Ravenhill rugby ground, Belfast

Ulster backs coach Neil Doak — like Nevin Spence, a former Schools’ Cup finalist in the colours of Wallace High School — admitted that it is going to be difficult for the players when they return to training.

“It’ll take a while to come to terms with it. Going into work is going to be strange — there will be little flashbacks, I’m sure, so that will be hard,” he said.

Expressing his admiration for the young player, Doak said: “Nevin was a guy who played with his heart on his sleeve.

“He was one of the most committed and unselfish players.

“He would do anything for the team and he put his body on the line every time he crossed the whitewash.

“It was the same if he was playing for Ulster or Ballynahinch. Whoever he played for, he gave 100 per cent.

“He epitomised what Ulster are about and he will be sorely missed. This has been a shock to everybody,” Doak said.

Describing Nevin as the sort of player coaches love to work with, he continued: “He put his heart and soul into it.

“He worked hard at his game because he had ambitions to go far.

“At 22 you don’t think it’s going to be cut short like this.”

Doak lives near the Spence family farm and news of what had happened spread quickly on Saturday night.

“I live only a couple of miles away and when the news started to break, people were just numb,” he said.

“The farming community out here are close knit and they’re pulling together to try and help out by keeping things going.

“But for this to happen to one family is just an absolute tragedy,” he added.

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