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Ulster Rugby: Michael Allen aiming to hit the ground running again

By Michael Sadlier

He's patiently waited for another starting chance and now that it's arrived, Michael Allen is understandably eager to make his mark again.

But all this enthusiasm comes with a nagging fear which will remain in his mind until kick-off. It's not exclusive to younger players, but is relevant all the same.

"Any young player who hasn't established himself as an outright starter in the team will put pressure on themselves, you think 'I don't want to mess up.' he said before explaining how he has dealt with past situations.

"It builds up on you but you deal with it in a positive way. "When you get into a game you want to make an impression and in the first five minutes if you can make one good tackle, or a good pass, or catch a high ball then the pressure is off you."

His cause at Ulster is somewhat complicated by the fact that it's certainly not easy being a winger around Ravenhill – though Allen can also operate at outside centre and full back – what with Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble and Craig Gilroy all on the books.

Allen isn't the only player who is hoping to benefit from the Six Nations taking frontline players away from Ulster, but the 23-year-old is clearly intent on using this opportunity to reprise some of his early season form which saw him scoring three tries, with two from that total coming against Treviso at the end of September.

Indeed, even though his starts have been few and far between since then, Allen is the joint top Ulster try scorer in the PRO12 along with Jared Payne.

It's a statistic which catches Allen by surprise though that soon passes when he recalls what happened to him in game against Edinburgh in November.

"It was probably my first start in a month or so and it was something I was really looking forward to," Allen says before a big collision, early in the game, left him reeling from a jaw injury and having to leave the action early.

"It was one of those things, it was just an accident between my jaw and their player's knee."

With Europe intervening again, he didn't get another start until December's PRO12 win over Zebre at Ravenhill and, as such, is champing at the bit for a solid game tonight against the Ospreys.

"Hopefully this week I can get 80 minutes under my belt," he said.

"I want to also hopefully repeat the form I had at the start of the year over these next four weeks."

That early season form has given the talented player, who was part of the Emerging Ireland squad for last summer's Tblisi Cup, a definite boost in confidence.

"Now it's another opportunity for me to try and make a name for myself again."

He's ready to thrive as the pressure builds again.

Belfast Telegraph

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