I love playing more than ever: Darren Cave undecided over Ulster future
Veteran Ulster centre Darren Cave has admitted he is yet to decide whether he will continue playing beyond the end of this season.
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With the one-year deal he signed in April of last season expiring at the end of this campaign, Saturday's clash with Southern Kings at Kingspan Stadium (5.30pm kick-off) could be one of his last for the side who are sweating on the fitness of key men Iain Henderson and Will Addison for next week's Champions Cup quarter-final with Leinster.
"I have not made a decision on what the future holds for me," Cave (31) said. "I love playing as much as I ever did, probably more than I ever did because I do not take it for granted.
"There was probably a time in the middle of my career where I thought I was going to be playing forever but I am not sure how close the end is right now."
Still just 31, only Andrew Trimble has made more appearances for the province than Cave, who has also earned 11 caps for Ireland.
But despite not knowing whether he’ll soon hang up the boots, the centre does not feel the situation is weighing too much on his mind.
“I think it could be but I have not found it unsettling,” he said. “I have not made a decision on what the future holds for me but it is all aligned anyway.
“Regardless of what Darren Cave is doing at the end of next season or this season, it all ties back to Ulster finishing strongly this season.
“If I am not playing rugby next year then I want to go out on a high, and if I am playing then I want to have been part of this team that has built this, won that or nearly won this, or whatever it was.
“It just boils down to trying to compete and give as much as I can every week to help the team to win and if I can do that, then I am going to be happy, whatever happens, happens on the other front.”
While not ruling anything out at this stage, Cave, who has featured in Ulster’s last six Guinness PRO14 games, says it is unlikely he pitches up at anywhere other than Kingspan Stadium next season.
“It is something I have not made a decision on so I don’t really want to speculate too much,” he said. “Ideally I would, like many players in all provinces, like to retire as a one-club man. But again, there are so many things to consider, playing elsewhere would not be off the table, but I would say that it is probably highly unlikely.”