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Rob Herring aims to make his impact count

By Michael Sadlier

He looks suitably refreshed after having a break from the usual grind of training, travelling and playing and, as such, Rob Herring is well up for some chat about his favourite leisure time activity – surfing.

Last weekend he was up in Portrush checking out some waves and the Cape Town native was pretty impressed with what he found on the north coast but was even more so when he wandered into a surfing outlet in the town.

"I spoke to some guy there at a surf store and he showed me some pictures of what it can be like and it looked really good," the 23-year-old Ireland qualified hooker said with a smile while reckoning that a return visit could well be on the cards.

"It's just something I've always done," Herring says about hitting the ocean with his board. "Since I was about five I've been surfing. I think it just relaxes you and it's just a nice thing to do," he adds.

Another pleasant diversion from the day job saw Herring and his other half – over from Cape Town on a six-week visit – head off to Amsterdam during the week's break from training.

Unfortunately, though, it came after the 17-9 defeat at the start of the month to the Scarlets, which brought to an end Ulster's on-field activity until tomorrow's meeting with Edinburgh at Ravenhill (kick-off 7.05).

Ah yes, it's not long before the rugby intrudes again and with Rory Best away on Ireland duty, this is Herring's time to make his mark which, of course, he had been hoping to do over in west Wales when an Ulster side shorn of their Irish international call-ups fell well short of the mark.

The defeat at the Scarlets ensured that the squad signed off for three weeks without a game in the worst manner possible but Herring still managed to quickly park the experience and enjoy Amsterdam before returning to the training paddock with added determination to put things right tomorrow when former Ulster coach Alan Solomons – and a fellow South African – returns to Belfast with his Edinburgh squad.

"That (the Scarlets game) was a a chance to stake a bit of a claim and just get some game time so it wasn't a good outcome for me," Herring admits. "We did a post-match review before we broke up and to be honest we didn't really talk about it that much, we just pushed that game out of the way and looked to the future.

"I just want to knuckle down and get a bit more involved this week and I think that maybe I was a bit off the mark before.

"I want to get in more tackles and a few steals as well," he adds before widening his gaze.

"For me, I just looked at the last game and scrumming-wise we just weren't good enough so I've now worked hard with Clarkey (Allen Clarke) while just continuing on getting that accuracy at the lineout."

While Herring has been grafting away on his personal goals, the squad have had to endure a difficult time what with a mounting injury list and other players being unexpectedly called away to the Ireland squad.

It's a challenging time for those Ulster squad members expected to fly the flag during the international window, with lack of numbers at set-piece training sessions not exactly helping. However, getting on with the job is what it is all about.

"We just need to keep it going and we need another win," is Herring's take on it all.

Right now, the surfing can wait and what he really wants to hit the crest of a wave with Ulster.

Belfast Telegraph

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