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Sean Reidy relishing chance to lead by example as one of Ulster's senior voices


Standing tall: Sean Reidy admits he has become more professional with increasing experience

Standing tall: Sean Reidy admits he has become more professional with increasing experience

Standing tall: Sean Reidy admits he has become more professional with increasing experience

It won't be long before he turns 31, so Sean Reidy is very much part of the older echelon at Ulster.

If that maybe doesn't sit so well for him, there have been other fringe benefits from having been around for a while.

Indeed, the back-rower has become a paradigm of consistency, his work rate, skill, durability and ability to put in high numbers of minutes on the park all ensuring that the Irish-qualified Kiwi has become a key player in Dan McFarland's squad.

Not bad for a guy who rocked up at Ulster for a trial back in summer 2014 - his timing could have been better as first David Humphreys and then Mark Anscombe were out the door in quick succession - with little expectation from either party that it would probably lead to very much.

He has seen much change, and turmoil, since being kept on that summer, but has come through it all and emerged as a dedicated professional determined to push standards and, as such, has even picked up two Ireland caps.

No surprise then that Reidy was offered, and signed on for, a new two-year contract.

Even more ideal is that it keeps him here now with his first child, a son, who has newly arrived.

"Yeah, it's all going okay, and I'm just trying to improve every week. You can't get too caught up in stats," said the Auckland native when asked what he felt of currently being the Guinness PRO14's top tackler for the season with 155 hits registered beside his name.

"You just know yourself if you're playing well, or not so. I'm just trying to do the best I can every week. I'm just trying to improve as a player and a person, so that seems to be going alright."

He shrugs off attempts to drill down further into his sizeable on-field contributions and the fact that he has put in four straight 80-minute shifts in his last five games.

It's just part of the job really.

And Reidy's only nod to the fact that he is the other side of 30 comes from how there is extra responsibility required now that he is, well, almost an elder statesman.

"As you get older, you naturally take more of a leadership role and you help guys out and lead more by example," he explained.

"As you get older you also realise how much more of a professional you've got to be.

"You have got to look after your recovery but not only that, you have also got to be doing your homework on the computers that much more.

"I've got a little boy now as well, so things at home, you know, I'm probably not getting as much sleep.

"So you've just got to look after yourself as much as you possibly can."

The toll is both physical and mental, but Reidy has been around long enough to know how to find some form of happy medium even if being a new parent is quite a steep learning curve to manage.

"It is what it is," he stated of what has already been a heavy workload having only been stood down for the trip to Leinster prior to Christmas.

"There have been quite a few seasons now when I've had pretty high minutes, and I'm pretty used to it by now and I feel like I'm quite robust.

"But you've got to try to go home and get away from the game a little to freshen up, while at the same time you've got to do your recovery."

His full game at the Ospreys was another one where he put in his hits, though, clearly, the disappointment at the defeat was as biting as the terrible weather conditions.

"You've got to take your learnings pretty quickly in this game," he explained. "You can't dwell too long otherwise that (negative) energy gets infectious in the squad so you've got to take that energy and just push it towards a good performance this week at home."

They need to hit back and really need to, what with the Cheetahs lurking six points behind second-placed Ulster in Conference A.

He was on duty back in October in Bloemfontein when the South Africans blew Ulster away by 63-26. That wrong has to be righted.

"I'd say they'll definitely be up for this one," Reidy said of tomorrow's visitors.

"We know they like to play and if it's a dry night here they'll want that expansive game.

"They got a lot of purchase from us from their side to side kind of game and their wings and full-back made good breaks (in Bloemfontein)."

Ruan Pienaar's expected return is also no place to find Reidy lingering in admiration for the former Ulster favourite.

And why would he? Winning the game is all that counts.

"He's just another player," stated Reidy, though it's unlikely he really does subscribe to that throwaway notion.

"But he knows how it is, I'll be coming for him," he quipped, before changing tack.

"I can't say I'm going to be going after him, we'll be looking at their team as a whole as they've got threats right across the park.

"We've just got to press on and we know the Cheetahs aren't far off our heels now.

"So hopefully we'll get a good performance this week and try to get towards that home quarter-final.

"We've got to make sure we're on our game."

We know Reidy will be.

Belfast Telegraph