Belfast Telegraph

Nevin Spence ready for serious toil with Ulster

By Ciaran Donaghy

Nevin Spence is another one of Ulster's young guns hoping to seize the opportunities that coach Brian McLaughlin is giving him in the starting line up.

The 20-year-old scored one of Ulster's two tries at The Rec last weekend in the victory over Bath which has helped to secure his place in this afternoon's starting line up for the derby clash with Leinster.

“Playing rugby is always something I want to do and it's definitely better than having to go to university all the time or getting a job,” joked Spence.

“The try at The Rec was a great team score, I think it went through about 20 phases and everyone got a touch so it was nice to finish it off in the corner and get my first score for Ulster.

“It was fortunate for me that Darren's (Cave) injury came when it did, one person's disappointment usually means an opportunity for another.

“Hopefully between now and when Darren comes back from injury I can do as well as I can.”

Spence has the has the power and the pace to play either in the centre or on the wing but admits he prefers to playing in midfield along side Irish international Paddy Wallace although their partnership is broken up today as Wallace sits out the game as part of the Player Management Programme.

“I'll just play where ever I'm asked but I like playing in the centre.

“Paddy is a massive help to my game, he will keep me from going to hyper in games and keeps me calm, his experience really shines through especially in defence.

“It is a great help to play with him and hopefully I can learn a lot.”

Like his Ballynahinch club mate Paddy McAllister, Spence's performance against Munster made people sit up and notice and although it was a game Ulster failed to win the two young guns earned the plaudits.

“It was nice to be given the opportunity to start against Munster. Unfortunately we didn't win and probably didn't play the greatest. It was nice to come through that game and do alright but it would of course have been better had we won.”

This season is a learning curve for Spence and he was dealt a few harsh lessons in the games against Bath.

“Matt Banaham is a big man and a couple of times he got big hits on me but it's all great experience, having Paddy inside is really good because he talks you through things and keeps you calm. Playing against those guys that you used to watch on television is a great experience.”

Spence will be robbed of his chance to play against Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy but is still expecting a tough day at the office.

“You always want to play against the best players in the world, unfortunately he isn't playing this week but they still have great players there.

“D'Arcy have spent time injured this season so the players that they will bring in are going to good so it is still going to be a big challenge to play against them.

“The physicality seems to be upped no matter who is playing, with the internationals out it will be a chance to play against players I've played with on representative teams.”

Spence is hoping for another influential performance in the derby to help Ulster to stay in contention and keep their fine run of form together.

“Ulster is your home province and there is a real sense of loyalty and pride so it's great that we are doing well and winning games.”

“At the start of the season we set out goals to still be alive in Europe and be up in the top four of the Magners League — and we are certainly doing that.”

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