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Stu is the centre of attention ahead of Six Nations

By Nick Purewal

Stuart McCloskey was mistaken for a second row when he first pitched up at Ulster training as an unknown 20-year-old.

Fast forward just three years and Ulster's top stars insist it would be no error to hand the wrecking-ball centre his Test debut in the RBS 6 Nations.

As a young teenager obsessed with first soccer then golf, Ulster's latest big hitter was once shunted into scrum-half to offset his slight frame.

Now though, the 6ft 3ins, 17stone McCloskey's "freakish" size and "full package" skills have had team-mate Luke Marshall purring, and Ireland boss Joe Schmidt paying serious heed.

"When we first saw him at Ulster a few people assumed he was a second row," Marshall said.

"He's far bigger than any other centre at Ulster. I think he's probably got about 15 kilos on any other centre. And in Ireland, let alone Ulster, that's freakish - we just don't make centres that big.

"So when we realised he was a centre there was initially a bit of surprise.

"But he quickly showed what he's all about and how damaging he can be.

"Yes he's got the size, but he's also got the skills to back that up.

"He's got good hands, he's quick and can kick too. He's got the full package.

"We all knew if he got the exposure that he could definitely make a big impact. And it's not hard to see why he's pushing for the international call now."

Ireland will chase history through a third consecutive Six Nations crown, starting against Wales in Dublin on Sunday week.

Belfast Telegraph


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