Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Uslter's Darren Cave looks to respond after testing time

Moving on: Darren Cave has endured a difficult week

It has not been a particularly good week for Ulster centre Darren Cave.

A member of the side which, right at the death, lost 13-12 to Glasgow last Friday night, he then found himself omitted from Joe Schmidt's plans when the new Ireland coach named his training squad for the autumn series.

Before Schmidt's announcement, Cave revealed: "If there's anything I have learned in my international career it's not to expect anything and don't hold your breath.

"I'm just trying to keep working hard and to help Ulster win games. It's about making sure Mark (Anscombe) continues to select me here. Mind you, this weekend will be my 110th Ulster cap and I wouldn't say that has done me any massive favours in the past in terms of Irish appearances!" he smiled.

"No, bottom line is that if I lose my place here I'm going to be nowhere near an Ireland call so I've just got to concentrate on that."

Asked for his opinion of Ulster's position following defeats in each of the first two PRO12 games of the season his reply was: "After the Dragons game I would have marked us very lowly – that was a pretty dire effort from everyone.

After the Glasgow game, though, there was a lot of optimism in terms of our performance if not the result because at the end of the day we only got one point when what we wanted was at least four.

"But at the same time there were massive positives to be drawn from that. Yes, it would have been better if it had been a game in which the positives were blindingly obvious – the scoreline and how you scored ten tries.

"But sometimes that doesn't happen and you have to watch the game back and get what you can from that. Glasgow are one of the favourites for the league and I don't think there was any doubt about who was the better team on the night – not in my mind anyway.

"I'm not going to lie, I'd rather we were higher up the league. But whereas the Dragons performance was worrying, the Glasgow one wasn't. So I don't think we need to change a lot going into this week's match.

"It's not often you leave two or three – I wouldn't even call them opportunities – on the field like we did against Glasgow. When you say 'opportunity' you're maybe talking about something where you're relying on a series of six events. These were about literally setting the ball down!

"If we'd done that we'd be sitting having a conversation about our disappointment at not having got a winning bonus point. So while it's not ideal, it's not gloom and doom either," he said.

He is gearing up for another tough inter-pro against Connacht in Galway.

"I think the four Irish provinces are as good as they've ever been," he said. "Getting into Europe, Connacht have increased their fan-base and their players' exposure to high-intensity games.

"I think they're a far better team than they have ever been and it makes it a wee bit harder this time with us not having won in the league."