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Lyttle is savouring education under Kingspan big guns

By Nick Purewal

It's been quite a season for Rob Lyttle, who, after making his breakthrough with Ulster, recovered from injury to make his Ireland U20s Six Nations debut in the impressive win against France last time out.

With captain Jack Kelly fit again, Lyttle is likely to be switched from full-back to the wing for Saturday's crucial clash in Wales, but he has already proven his finishing quality in the wide position with the three tries that he has scored in his eight senior appearances this season.

The 20-year-old is highly rated at the Kingspan Stadium but as with the U20s, he faces plenty of competition for his place.

Training day in, day out with the likes of Charles Piutau, Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble has accelerated his development and he showed glimpses of his undoubted potential in Donnybrook against France.

"From playing senior rugby and then coming down to the U20s, the only difference is the size of boys," said Lyttle. "It just isn't as physical but I would say it is definitely quicker. The boys are much younger and fitter.

"With the backline, it's probably twice over. We could have two full backlines with the exact same quality. Competition for places is tough.

"Craig Gilroy isn't too far off my age and then Andrew Trimble is more of an experienced head. Charles Piutau as well, he's class but he's good craic. He's easy to chat to so I'm always learning off him too.

"After this Six Nations period, more of the experienced players will be there (Ulster) at the business end of the season. I probably won't get a chance but if I do, I will be ready to take it."

While the Irish U20s remain on track for a Grand Slam, there is a shared feeling among the coaches and players that we haven't yet seen the best of this young side. Lyttle certainly agrees:

"I wasn't involved in the first two games but I know from chatting to the boys, they definitely didn't play as well as they could have," he said.

"Then against France, there were spells of good rugby but a lot of it was lacklustre and could have been better."

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