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I regret lack of trophy joy with Ulster, says Roger Wilson

 

By Jonathan Bradley

With his professional rugby career having drawn to a close at the weekend, Ulster's retired Roger Wilson says it is moments like the immediate aftermath of Saturday's win over Leinster that he'll miss the most.

The No.8, who also represented Ireland on one occasion and spent four years in England with Northampton Saints, is hanging up his boots after a record 221 appearances for his native province, with plans to move to America in the next 12 months.

With 15 years of top-level experience to look back on, he believes it is the memories of time spent with his team-mates that will stick with him.

"It's just things like this, sitting after winning a big game like Leinster," he said.

"For me it's the camaraderie of the team and the team spirit that you don't get anywhere else.

"Rugby gives you a good life. If you break down our working week, we probably only work around half of what people that do a normal 9-5 job do.

"People look at that and say, 'you have a good life, you train in the morning then you go off and drink your coffees and you do this and that'.

"But it is tough at times. There are times in the winter, when there is snow and hail, and you're walking from the car to the training pitch with niggles from the weekend and just thinking, 'I'll get on the phone to my agent right now and we'll call it a day'.

"You just have to see beyond that and see the brighter light that makes it all worthwhile."

Despite those previous thoughts of retirement, Wilson rolled back the years in his final game, winning the man of the match award and contributing a rare try in the 17-13 win.

After such a stirring performance, the 35-year-old joked that he had already been in contact with the side's Operations Manager Bryn Cunningham for a new deal.

"I told Bryn we'll take a trip up to the boardroom and discuss business for half an hour but I don't think that is going to happen," he laughed.

"I felt like I was going well. I haven't played a huge amount of rugby recently. The first third of the season I was involved quite a bit, but a couple of injuries and not being selected, I was in for a game and out for a month then in again so it was hard to maintain any sort of match fitness.

"I got to about 45-50 minutes (against Leinster) and I was cramping. At 60 minutes I couldn't have gone any further so it was the right time to come off the pitch. I was happy with how it went."

Unfortunately for Wilson and his Ulster team-mates, there was nothing on the line against their old rivals after Les Kiss' men had already been eliminated from play-off contention.

For Wilson, not picking up more medals is the one regret he takes into retirement.

"During a 15-year career with two top clubs, Ulster and Northampton, we've won silverware here and there but nothing major," he added.

"I don't want to take away from winning the league in 2006 but it's probably not enough from the talent we have had at our disposal, from the resources we have had here, and that is the main thing.

"At the end of your career, and chatting to people that have retired, the one thing you can take away is winning things, so the one major disappointment is that I haven't picked up more."

• ULSTER duo Ruan Pienaar and Charles Piutau have been called up to the legendary Barbarians squad to face England at the end of the month.

Both will play in the match at Twickenham on May 28, but will then play against the Barbarians for Ulster when the touring squad visit the Kingspan Stadium on June 1.

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