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Boss Kiss has been impressed by driven McCall's big breakthrough

By Jonathan Bradley

While injuries are sure to present a serious test of Ulster's resources ahead of the visit of Toulouse on Friday night, one man who has already seized his unexpected chance in the senior team is Kyle McCall.

The loosehead prop had only four appearances over three seasons to his name coming into this campaign - all from the bench - but after earning a first start against Newport last month he was named in the No.1 jersey again for the Leinster battle before earning man of the match honours for an hour-long stint against Edinburgh last weekend.

An Ulster scrum that has been decidedly more miss than hit in recent games held firm for the most part with McCall handling his head-to-head with Scottish World Cup and PRO12 Team of the Year tighthead WP Nel well while also making a strong contribution in the loose.

When Edinburgh did make a rare prolonged foray into Ulster territory during the first-half, it was McCall and fellow prop Ricky Lutton who combined to force a crucial turnover while the 23-year-old continued to show mobility around the park.

With Callum Black and Andrew Warwick also vying for minutes at loosehead, Director of Rugby Les Kiss is thrilled to see the developing competition.

"Kyle has had a chance recently and taken it with two hands really," said Kiss.

"You want that in your environment, a really competitive situation in each position, and he's certainly delivered that.

"We've got Callum Black and Andy Warwick who are pretty handy footballers too. He's taken his chance really well and everyone is really impressed with how he's gone about his business because he's worked hard to get here and he's maintaining that ethos to make sure he nails it."

Team-mate Chris Henry has been pleased to see McCall -often described as one of the team's most determined trainers during the week - maintain his attitude after making it into the first team.

"Kyle has been brilliant," said flanker Henry, who was also one of the top performers on Friday.

"He's one of the hardest trainers in this squad and I think that showed. His work-rate is immense.

"There were a lot of injuries to some of our older heads and in general all the younger lads, Kyle, Rory Scholes, Alan O'Connor, Stuart McCloskey and John Andrew, stood up.

"That's what we needed, it was a tough opponent and we knew we owed the crowd something from the last home game.

"We just needed a win. We have to use the momentum; it's a massive couple of weeks ahead for us now, a defining stage of the season.

"The younger lads really stood up and it's fantastic for us to have that."

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