Michael Allen is relishing chance to make his Ulster impact
WHILE there will no doubt have been a number in Ulster's camp who were quietly relieved to see last Friday's game with Scarlets succumb to the weather, for Michael Allen the postponement was frustrating on a multitude of levels.
Slated to start on the wing due to the continued international involvement of Andrew Trimble, the game was set to provide an all too rare chance for the 23-year-old to stake a claim for future involvement, while also offering an opportunity for both collective and individual redemption.
Head coach Mark Anscombe could not hide his frustration with Ulster's efforts in their previous outing against Ospreys while Allen's own contribution had come under increased scrutiny after the youngster failed to score when Ashley Beck's tackle dislodged the ball before the Belfast Harlequins man could complete his grounding.
Never one to shirk responsibility, Allen reflected: "People always highlight the errors I suppose, that's the job of the media, but I can't just look at it as one of those things.
"Having seen it again in the video review, with Neil Doak especially, I know that what I did wasn't the right thing. I should have dived earlier to get over the line instead of trying to get closer before trying to ground it.
"I need to take that constructive criticism on board now so that the next time that situation comes up, I'll know exactly what to do.
"It was very disappointing to have last week's game called off because we were looking to make up for the Ospreys performance.
"We knew that we didn't perform as well as we can and we had a strong team ready to try and put that right.
"Personally for me as well, it was another opportunity to stake a claim and hopefully get some of my early season form back."
However, with Ulster's Ireland and Lions wing Tommy Bowe still not fit to feature due to a persistent groin injury, Allen will presumably get another chance to start when Ulster travel to face Treviso in the PRO12 on Sunday.
It is a contest that has fond memories for the man who represented Emerging Ireland in the Tbilisi Cup this summer – he scored a brace of tries in the reverse fixture last September – but he is aware that he will face a wholly different challenge this weekend.
"To know that I did well against Treviso at the start of year is something I can take a bit of confidence from but you can't look back too much.
"It will be a totally different Treviso team this time around and it could be a completely different situation.
"They've had a lot of points scored on them, and we'll look to do the same, but there can't be any complacency from us if we're going to get back on track."
While the visit to northern Italy will again see Ulster line up without a host of regular starters due to Ireland's game with England the previous day, Allen is relishing the prospect of an extended run in the side.
He said: "It's brilliant for a player like me who isn't involved with Ireland to get some game time during the Six Nations.
"Now when I do get that chance I have to make a real claim for myself so that when everybody is back I'm hard to leave out."
The former Methodist College star knows that this is the time of year he needs to make an impact. He'll just be hoping that this time the weather doesn't intervene.