Former Ireland Under-20 grand slam winning captain and Ulster flanker David Pollock is hoping he can put a frustrating, injury- plagued season behind him by helping Ulster to victory over European champions Leinster at the RDS on Boxing Day.
Pollock went under the knife in the summer and it’s been a long road back and while he has been in rehab Willie Faloon has come in to provide real competition for the No 7 shirt.
“It’s been a long tough season for me but it’s been a good one for Ulster Rugby as the team has done very well, but it’s tough watching from the sidelines as the boys have played some great stuff,” said Pollock
“I’m delighted to get back now and to have the injury over me and try to get as much rugby under my belt as I can and try to improve every week.”
“I’d an operation on my hip joint which had been nagging me last summer and I had to get it cleaned out and some of the structures around it repaired. I’m very happy with the way it went and the medical staff at Ulster have done a great job to get me back out onto the pitch.”
Pollock started in the home win over Stade Francais while Faloon played in Paris but with Stephen Ferris on a rest week both are likely to face Leinster from the first whistle and Pollock believes competition is healthy for the squad.
“Willie has been playing fantastic this season and all credit to him. We’ll be battling for the seven jersey for the rest of the season and that will be good for us. Throughout the squad there is a lot of competition and that can only be good for Ulster rugby and bringing us forward as a team.”
Ulster have a massive few weeks ahead which will determine their season both domestically and in Europe, starting with a red hot Leinster.
“Leinster are playing very good rugby and they are the champions of Europe so it’s a big challenge for us to go down there,” said Pollock.
“It’s a good challenge for us to have and for the guys who are getting their opportunity in the team and we’re looking forward to it.”
Ulster have already claimed Leinster’s scalp this season and Pollock is hoping the side can draw inspiration from that performance to end a barren 10-year run in Dublin.
“Beating Leinster on our home paddock gives the guys a lot of confidence,” he said.
“We played alright in France and just didn’t take our opportunities, but our home performance against Stade was good.”
“There is a good confidence in the team to go down and try and upset Leinster and just perform well.
“It’s a big game for us to try and get points on the board in any shape or form and the Christmas period is going to be a big one for us.”
“Leinster have played very well in their last two games against the Scarlets, we’ve watched those games and we know what we’re going to face and the level we have to be at to play well.”
“Leinster like to play rugby and throw the ball about and we have to try and disrupt them.
Forwards: D Fitzpatrick, B Young, BJ Botha, N Brady, A Kyriacou, E O’Donoghue, D Tuohy, R Caldwell, C Henry, D Pollock, W Faloon, TJ Anderson.
Backs: J Smith, C Schifcofske, S Danielli, D Cave, I Whitten, T Nagusa, I Humphreys, N O'Connor, I Boss, P Marshall, C Willis, J Shiells.