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Peter Nelson striving to kick on after solid start to season

By Michael Sadlier

Published 07/11/2015

Taking aim: Peter Nelson wants to play in Europe for the first time but is currently focused
on the challenge of Dragons at Rodney Parade
Taking aim: Peter Nelson wants to play in Europe for the first time but is currently focused on the challenge of Dragons at Rodney Parade

He's never played at Rodney Parade before but Peter Nelson will find out tomorrow what it's like to take the field in Newport, a place where Ulster have not fared so well over the last couple of seasons.

But the 23-year-old - who will start at full-back against the Dragons - isn't encumbered by what has happened before and, instead, is determined to simply press on and rack up more game-time in what has been a useful opening to the season.

And Nelson has also put his versatility on show as, after stepping in to fill the void at out-half for the first four games of the season, he returned last week for the meeting with Munster where the Dungannon native was brought in at full-back for the injured Louis Ludik.

"Yeah, I've been pleased with how I've started the season and I'll just try to continue and hopefully be involved for the coming weeks," is Nelson's take on things so far.

"Playing at 10 has helped my game and hopefully I can push on. Starting the season at 10 was a good experience for me and I learned a lot from it.

"Moving back to 15 (against Munster) I felt that my time at 10 helped me there with my communication with Jacko (Paddy Jackson) at 10 and with the centres.

"You have a lot more space further out in the backs when you're not (as a 10) organising in and around the ruck area.

"So I was feeding stuff into Jacko to try and get him to see things and the space opening up.

"Through my time at 10 I now value the (need for) communication coming from outside more."

And, going forward, there is something of substance to aim for as Nelson has yet to play in Europe and the Champions Cup kicks-off next weekend with a trip to French side Oyonnax.

"I've never been involved," said the player now rapidly closing in on making his 30th appearance for Ulster nearly four years after making his debut as a teenager on the callow side then-manager Brian McLaughlin put out at Leinster on Boxing Day 2011.

"I'd love to get a start in Europe. But I don't want to think too far ahead and I have to put in a performance this weekend in the PRO12 against the Dragons and then, hopefully, Europe will take care of itself."

And training his thoughts away from his personal ambitions, he said: "We need to go to the Dragons and get a result and we can't be worrying about Europe until after that."

And managing to win away for the first time this season? Nelson reckons there is no real issue if Ulster can get their systems working with more accuracy.

"In the dressing room after the loss to Munster we were all gutted as we'd played some really nice rugby and scored some great tries," he said.

"It was very disappointing because we let in a couple of soft tries and that's what it came down to, a couple of missed tackles and a couple of soft tries.

"I don't think it is a pattern for us. I think it's just fixing little errors in our game and we saw against Munster that we fixed a few things and that was a massive help even though we lost.

"We need to just build on that for the Dragons and if we play the rugby we're capable of playing we'll be in a good place.

"You have Ruan (Pienaar) and Rory (Best) coming back into the fold after their World Cup efforts and the experience and the quality of play they bring will add value and hopefully help us to an away victory."

And what a great way that would be to mark a first visit to the dreaded Rodney Parade.

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