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Roger Wilson is on a roll

By Jonathan Bradley

Few men will reach 150 caps for Ulster, fewer still could do so having enjoyed a four-year stint in the Aviva Premiership, but when Roger Wilson runs out against Scarlets at Ravenhill tomorrow night he will be doing just that.

The impressive tally of appearances accrued either side of his time spent with Northampton Saints is, however, something that Wilson is keen to downplay.

Ahead of tomorrow's return to RaboDirect PRO12 action, the back-rower said: "I was away for four years and obviously a few of the boys have done it. Rory (Best) I think has 150, Trimby (Andrew Trimble) has way more than that and Paddy (Wallace) as well. For me it's just been good to get back in the mix and try and keep up with them.

"It's obviously a nice little milestone but it's maybe something I'll appreciate a bit more when I stop playing."

If it were not for injury, then many more of those 149 appearances to date would have come with Stephen Ferris alongside him in the back-row and Wilson is excited by the imminent return of the 2009 Grand Slam winner.

"It'll be brilliant to see him back and he'll certainly add a hell of a lot to the squad," said the one-time capped Ireland international.

"I've never seen anyone keep their discipline as well as he has in his rehabilitation over the last year and half.

"He'll get a huge reception when he does come back because he's a huge physical player on the pitch and a top lad off it."

While Wilson has been an unerringly reliable stalwart of late – he has played all 320 minutes of Ulster's last four games – the Six Nations has been a period of upheaval that he is happy to see draw to a conclusion. The 32-year-old reflected: "Our goal was to win the four out of four (during the international window) and if we win on Friday night that will be objective achieved.

"It's not an easy time, personally I'd prefer to play every week and just keep the momentum going.

"Two days before this game was the first time we've had a full session so it's a bit disruptive but our focus is in the right place and we're in the right frame of mind.

"Sometimes when you have time off it can be difficult. Sometimes when we come back we don't play that well so we need to make sure we perform this weekend."

A rescheduled game due to a water-logged pitch back on February 14, the game-in-hand offers Mark Anscombe's men a real opportunity to put pressure on Munster and Leinster above them in the table.

"Usually going into the mid-April period is normally when it starts to establish itself with who you're going to possibly play but there is still plenty of rugby to play and all we can do is win as many games as we can," said Wilson.

"Obviously we've hit a good roll at the minute and we want to keep that going."

Scarlets however, have found form themselves, as Munster found out earlier this month with an 18-13 defeat at Parc y Scarlets, while the reverse fixture back in November was one of Ulster's most disappointing outings of the campaign.

Wilson added: "They're in good form; I think they've won five on the trot we were told today. If you look at when we played them earlier in the year they duffed us up front and then we couldn't get a platform at all. We just didn't turn up on the day so we certainly have to go out and rectify that."

Belfast Telegraph


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