Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Wallace hopes centre on making Six Nations cut

Ulster centre Paddy Wallace wants to add to his 14 international caps as Ireland prepare to kick off their Six Nations campaign against France at Croke Park on Saturday evening.

Wallace, a member of the Ireland side that won the 1999 U19 World Cup alongside Brian O’Driscoll, has been playing some of the best rugby of his career in the Ulster midfield this season and with his versatility he can easily slot into fly half if needed.

There is a lot of competition in the Ireland midfield and with O’Driscoll retaining the captaincy the inside centre berth is the only one up for grabs with Wallace fighting with Luke Fitzgerald and Gordon D’Arcy, but the Ulster man is happy to play anywhere.

“It’s nice to be in the squad, it’s always nice to be reselected and I’m looking forward to another Six Nations Championship hopeful I’ll play a part in it,” said Wallace.

“The way I’m playing in the centre I’m very confident that I can take the step up, as I did on the summer tour.

“With Ronan (O’Gara) establishing himself as the number one out half I’d be more determined to start matches so I would like to see myself in the centre first but covering on the bench for 10 if needs be.

“That’s what Declan (Kidney) did in the autumn so I’ll be happy if I play a part somewhere.”

Wallace has adapted to the role of centre with aplomb following spells at full back and out half and is hoping he can bring his Ulster form onto the international stage.

“I’ve been there since Mark McCall’s third year in charge, I’ve been playing a long time in the centre and it’s a position I enjoy immensely,” added Wallace.

“It’s been a nice year this year as we are starting to win again at Ulster and the confidence is returning to the team. The playing side of things has been a lot more enjoyable in the last six months and long may it continue.” At Ulster it’s nice to be winning more games and putting together some good performances.”

Wallace is the in-form centre in Irish rugby and has played a vital part in Ulster’s resurgence, and with question marks over a few of the other candidates he is hoping to make the starting line-up for the opener against France.

“It’s always your ambition to play for your country and I’d like to get more game time than I’ve had.

“I’ve always been a bench player with Ireland but whenever I’ve had my opportunity I haven’t let myself down and it would be nice to get a run of games.

“It’s certainly an ambition of mine to play more rugby for Ireland, it’s the pinnacle to play for your country and I’ve had the opportunity to do it a few times and you crave it a bit more because of that.”

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