Lock Ed O’Donoghue was one of the new signing who caught the eye during Ulster’s defeat against Bath last week and he is relishing the chance to taste the Ravenhill atmosphere on Friday night as he faces the Queensland Reds, the side he left to come to Ireland.
“Ravenhill was really great, the weather was good which was a surprise, the crowd were fantastic and I think they will be a big advantage,” stated O’Donoghue.
“Leaving Australia, I never expected I’d have to play Queensland so it’s a good little treat and it should be quite exciting,.”
Ulster are building towards the start of the Magners League while the Reds’ Super 14 campaign ended a couple of months ago but O’Donoghue believes his former club has as much to play for as his new team.
“They’ll be very fit, they have been playing with the new ELV’s at Super 14 and club level so they’ll be ready and they will be some guys looking to get contracts so they will be really fired up,” he said.
London born O’Donoghue qualifies to play for Ireland as both his parents were born here. He spent two years at the Reds following spells with Northampton and Worcester and he was delighted at the chance to play for Ulster.
“I always wanted to come to Ireland, this Super 14 season wasn’t as good as my last and I really wanted to keep going forward. Ulster seemed the perfect mix of guys wanting to go forward, last year wasn’t a great one for Ulster but with Matt (Williams) and Steve (Williams) being so positive it was really an easy choice.
“Matt’s reputation as a coach proceeded him and I’d known Steve from playing with him during his last year at Northampton and I’d learnt quite a bit of him then so it was a good transition,” explained O’Donoghue.
With three pre season games on the agenda O’Donoghue knows he has a chance to put a maker down but admits there is a lot of competition for places in the Ulster engine room.
“Carlo (del Fava) is an international, Ryan (Caldwell) is a future international and Filo (Paulo) is a fantastic young talent so trying to squeeze in there is going to be tough. All four of us want to start and we’re all going to put our hands up and that will be better for Ulster,” he concluded.