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Retirement remains a long way off for title-hungry Ulster veteran Roger Wilson

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 06/10/2016

Still going strong: Roger Wilson wants to earn a new Ulster deal
Still going strong: Roger Wilson wants to earn a new Ulster deal

Ulster's Roger Wilson says he has no plans to hang up his boots at the end of this season despite nearing the end of his current deal.

The back-rower, who signed a contract through to the end of this season back in 2014, turned 35 a fortnight ago but believes his body is in as good a condition as ever as he aims to net an extension.

"I've no intentions of retiring at all, I want to play on," he said. "There's no issues at all, no niggles this year and body-wise I feel great. They know how to manage the ones who are getting a bit older here.

"At 35, you're aware that you're coming to the end but you want to drag it out as long as possible. You don't want to drift out but you want to be playing at a high standard. If you're selected, you don't want to let anyone down either. You want to produce."

Wilson is one of only four members in the Ulster squad who were a part of the province's last title victory back in 2006 and won the Challenge Cup with Northampton Saints in the 2009 season. His spell in the Aviva Premiership also yielded a runners-up medal in the Heineken Cup, when his side succumbed to Leinster's most dramatic of fightbacks in 2011, and he admits that a yearning for more honours is driving him forward during the twilight of his career.

"One of the main things too, you want to get more silverware. I've been playing for 15 years and haven't won as much as I could have. That's something I certainly want to put right," he said.

He could, therefore, be forgiven if an envious glance was directed towards tomorrow's opponents Connacht, even if last season's surprise package have started their title defence in far from ideal fashion. Wilson, however, only gives massive credit to Pat Lam and his men.

"I don't think many would have expected it but they were fully deserving. It's a bit like Leicester City in a way, you look at them, they got off to a great start and then maybe two-thirds through you're wondering if they can keep it going," he said.

"They stuck to it and deserved it. They played great rugby but everyone's aware now that they're a quality team. They've struggled a bit to start but you don't become a bad team over the course of a few months. We're looking forward to the challenge.

"They'll be gunning for us. They've had big wins against Leinster and Munster in recent years but they've struggled against us. Going into Europe, they'll want a big win in front of their home crowd."

Wilson's battle at the base of the scrum with John Muldoon should be an intriguing head to head as two provincial stalwarts, both of whom likely would have won Irish caps in far greater numbers if it weren't for the durability of Jamie Heaslip over the last decade, try to put their team on the front foot. Muldoon, who was a team-mate with Ireland A in the 2006 Churchill Cup, is a player Wilson respects greatly and an opponent he enjoys taking on.

He added: "He's a well-respected figure and leads the team well. He's still playing well and he's a talisman. I always enjoy going head to head with him. He's a good bloke and a great leader. He united that team and the fans and they get behind each other. He's huge for them."

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