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Doyle aiming to give Anscombe Euro headache

By Michael Sadlier

It was all so bizarre that it might yet feature as a trivia question.

So, if you're ever asked to name the Ulster backline which finished the game in last month's 38-8 whipping of the Dragons then you might want to be armed with the knowledge that Jared Payne was out-half while the two wingers were both, well, forwards.

With Tommy Bowe's comeback only lasting a notable 40 minutes, injuries felling Luke Marshall and Rory Scholes, Paddy Jackson being subbed after an hour and Ruan Pienaar also departing late on, it all meant that starting flanker Sean Doyle had to be shunted out to one flank while replacement back rower Mike McComish also had to be deployed on the opposite wing.

Doyle, at least, took it all in his stride and was well up for banter when asked if he now hoped to get a run-out at full-back for tomorrow night's game at Edinburgh.

"Actually it was like a bit of a rest because wingers have it easy," he says with a smile.

"They just sit out there and I was actually getting cold," he adds, which might be part of the reason he missed out on getting his second try of the night, the first one having come while playing in his more familiar position.

"If I was fresh I think I'd have gone a bit better and maybe would have caught JP's (Jared Payne's) ball but I was absolutely busted.

"In fact, Mike McComish came on and when I saw him I thought 'brilliant, I'm going to get a rest' as I was done and my calves were cramping up but then he just came on and said 'you're on the wing'.

"I thought he was joking," laughs the 24-year-old. "At one stage, we both hit a ruck and I said 'right let's shuffle this back round' but he said, 'no mate I'm actually on the other wing' so we both had a laugh about that."

Joking aside, Doyle is enjoying a decent run in the starting side and tomorrow will be his fifth straight game though, of course, this has all been made possible due to Chris Henry's absence at the Six Nations.

"Yes, with Chrissie (Henry) being away, Mark (Anscombe) said 'it's an opportunity and there are six to eight games you could play.' But unless you're playing well that's all it's going to be, an opportunity and you might only get one. I've been playing every game like it's my last and that's what you've got to do," says Doyle.

With Henry on course to be in Ulster's starting side for April 5's Heineken Cup quarter-final with Saracens, Friday's game is vitally important for Doyle to ensure he makes a powerful statement.

"To be involved (in the Heineken Cup clash with Saracens) would be something.

"It is in the back of your mind that Sarries (Saracens) is coming up but unless I really play this week it won't matter as I won't even be thought about for selection," he says with candour of his chances of nailing a bench place.

Inevitably, the conversation turns to Stephen Ferris and his eye-catching comeback off the bench last week in the win over the Scarlets. Doyle mentions that even though he actually did play alongside the Ireland and Lions flanker before, in the result over Munster back in September 2012, the impact Ferris made even surprised Doyle such was its ferocity.

"It was good, having him back and his first touch, well, he was driving the bloke back quicker than I could catch up with him.

"That's Stephen Ferris. I thought he would be rusty but he tore the place to pieces."

Doyle knows he needs to do something similar tomorrow night.

Belfast Telegraph


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