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Ulster Rugby: Rory Scholes battles on in pursuit of goals

By Michael Sadlier

There was something particularly memorable from his first competitive appearance for Ulster, which came three weeks ago against the Ospreys, when he was sprung from the bench late on at a weather-blasted Ravenhill.

Rory Scholes smiles at recalling entering the mud-spattered fray with a pristine white shirt to take his place out on the left wing while the wind and rain howled around the ground.

"I wanted to get my cap, it was something I was aspiring to for a while," Scholes says when asked if perhaps he might rather have sat out the arm-wrestle victory over the Ospreys, considering the conditions. "It was good to get five minutes and though I didn't have much to do, I think I got my shirt dirty thanks to one tackle."

"But it got me into things and let me know the speed of the game," the Ulster Academy player added.

On Sunday, in Treviso, he got about half an hour after coming on for fellow Belfast Harlequin Michael Allen – just as he had done in the Ospreys game – and made a positive contribution with one notable break down the left wing.

On an afternoon when most of the Ulster side again under-performed, his reward has come with a starting place tonight ahead of Allen in a back three alongside Tommy Bowe and Jared Payne.

"I think it was about 13-14 degrees and there were flies everywhere, but the ball was dry and when I came on I just wanted to get my hands on it," added Scholes, who celebrates his 21st birthday next month.

"I was involved in the lead-up to the try just in the right hand corner and then after the kick off I had a break down the line so it wasn't too bad.

"We were happy to get four points away from home, but there were a lot of errors and a penalty here or there that was stopping our flow.

"But we're now focusing on the Dragons and the need to get another four points."

His presence in the senior team has been the stuff of dramatic rises, especially in view of the competition for the wing berths and the fact that Scholes – who can also play full-back – has been out injured for most of the season and has not long returned to fitness.

Last summer, things had gone well and Scholes featured prominently for Ireland Under 20s at the World Cup in France.

But a hip injury, picked up in August's pre-season friendly against Leinster, ruled him out of action until January of this year.

"I came back (from the World Cup) looking to get things on, I got 40 minutes in a pre-season friendly then I was out for five months," he says.

"I damaged my hip joint then my tendons and cartilage all flared up and got damaged so it was just a case of rest.

"I did my rehab and got back and I've just been fired into things, but I wouldn't have it any other way and I'm enjoying myself."

Scholes' first game back was for the Ulster Ravens in their win over the Cornish Pirates at Deramore last month, and he had also managed to get a couple of games in for Quins in the All Ireland League prior to his elevation to the senior squad.

"It's really all been a blur after being out for so long, but Scholes is relishing his unexpected opportunity.

"I know there is a lot of competition for the wings," he rightly states.

"All I can focus on is just learning from the guys in training and train the best I can.

"If I get an opportunity all I can do is take it."

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