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Marcus Rea looking forward to huge clash with Sharks World Cup winner Siya Kolisi

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Marcus Rea has been starring in Ulster’s back row this season

Marcus Rea has been starring in Ulster’s back row this season

©INPHO/Tom Maher

Marcus Rea has been starring in Ulster’s back row this season

Marcus Rea will hopefully be able to chalk off another item from the ‘to do list’ tomorrow in what has already been a season of lofty achievement.

The expectation is that he will lock horns with none other than Springbok captain and World Cup winner Siya Kolisi which ought to be quite the test of Rea’s progress and resolve.

Rea certainly deserves his chance to potentially battle with one of the game’s best operators.

A nd, so far, there is no hint that the 24-year-old might be straying into uncharted territory having already gone toe-to-toe with other leading lights of Test rugby including Toulouse’s Anthony Jelonch , Hamish Watson of Edinburgh and Cardiff’s Josh Navidi.

From being positioned outside the group of back-rowers considered regular starters for Ulster, Rea has rigorously gone about pushing his way to the top end of the queue with his work at the breakdown catapulting him to prominence in the most ultra-competitive area for selection.

In terms of numbers, the Ballymena native has delivered, playing in 12 of Ulster’s last 13 matches with 11 starts coming his way in that period.

Impressive enough, but the stats just get better as his 17 turnovers have put Rea third in the URC table for work at the breakdown in a mini league led by Stormers veteran Deon Fourie with 22 to his name.

Also throw in that 17 of his 23 games since first donning the Ulster jersey back in April 2019 have been this season and Rea, whose older brother Mattie is also in the squad, has clearly been making some rapid strides.

As to the possibility of an on-field meeting with Kolisi, there is no hint at being starstruck or overawed by what could be a key confrontation in the game.

“We’ve played against big players who have played in Six Nations championships in the past,” says Rea, “but it will be good playing against him and seeing how he works at the breakdown and with carries.

“I never thought that I would maybe get a chance to play against him and it will be very much a one-on-one battle and I will be trying to limit him too very little hopefully.”

Duane Vermeulen will also be a useful sounding board though his knowledge will extend beyond simply nullifying Kolisi at the breakdown.

As Rea explains: “Duane is very switched on and knows what the South African teams are like and the different players and personalities.

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“He is very smart with how technical he is and even just his knowledge of players he will give you little pockets of information that you will be able to use against them at certain times in the match.”

All that remains now is to keep Kolisi and co quiet, get the required victory and bank that home quarter-final.

"Once we were knocked out of Europe it was very much a case of we went into the shed and said ‘we still have a competition to play for and we still have a home quarter final to play for.’

““Then beating Edinburgh on their home patch was huge because it hadn’t been done this season, so we reacted well, We got back on the horse in a tough arena and we are full steam ahead to win this,” says Rea.

Time to power up and do the business.




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