Belfast Telegraph

Nick happy to be in the thick of it for Ulster

By Niall Crozier

Ulster's new back row forward Nick Williams did not have much time to settle in before being sent to the front.

A problem with his visa delayed his arrival from New Zealand. Just three days after being given the go-ahead to travel, he arrived on August 11. A week later he found himself starting at No 8 for Ulster against Leicester Tigers. Hectic.

“I arrived into the thick of things, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The easiest way to get myself inducted into the team is just to be thrown in the deep end and sort myself out from there,” the Kiwi (pictured) said.

It could be up to a month, however, before his fiancée and their five-month-old daughter receive the paperwork they will need before being able to join him in Belfast.

“I’ve been talking to them every day and it’s tough to be here and away from them. But the guys have made it easier, they’ve helped me settle in,” Williams revealed.

“I know John (Afoa) and Jared (Payne), and obviously the South African boys like Robbie (Diack) and Johann (Muller) who I played with and against back home. But in general, they’ve all been great.

“They’ll shoot me text messages or phone calls away from training to see if I want to catch up for a coffee and things like that — I probably sound like a woman, but it actually goes a long way.”

His recollection of his debut was: “I personally enjoyed it, even if my lungs didn’t!

“It was over two months since I’d been out on a rugby pitch, so it was good to get my hands on the ball and try and stay within the structures here and try to play well and do what I was brought here to do.”

He was happy with last Saturday’s contribution.

“The coaches had given me do’s and don’t’s,” he added.

“Obviously I like to carry the ball, so they said I’d a free ticket and try to get my hands on the ball as much as I could, pick my times, try and pick the ball up and offload here and there, that sort of thing.

“In general though, once I get a few more games under my belt I’m hoping to get a lot more involved and try to bring more to the side.”

Before coming to Belfast — and having missed out on most of Ulster’s pre-season training — Williams did some work with the Auckland Blues staff.

“Their season was obviously winding down so I did more one-on-one work with the trainers just to try and keep my fitness ticking over,” he said.

“But the only way to game fitness is by actually playing, so I’m looking forward to getting a few more games under my belt and getting back to 100%.”

Belfast Telegraph

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