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Ulster v Newport Gwent Dragons: Browne fired up for rare opportunity

By Michael Sadlier

There is a fairly tenuous link to Rory Scholes running in his interception score in Treviso last Saturday, but second row Peter Browne is going to put it out there anyway.

It's all tongue-in-cheek but the Bristol-born player, who arrived from London Welsh last summer, lets it be known that his own emergence from the bench actually played a key part in Ulster's third touchdown.

"It was a good time to come on," Irish-qualified Browne says of his fifth appearance for the senior side which also happened to be his first match involvement since October.

"And I did so for that scrum that led to the intercept so I felt I made just the right impact.

"At least that's how I hoped the coaches saw it," he adds with a beaming smile of a typically forward-eyed slant on things.

And the bonus point try from Stuart Olding? No, he's not part-claiming that even as a light-hearted assist though, then again, he did have an input.

As Browne states: "Yes, then we got the fourth try and that came from a turnover scrum so we (the forwards) got some good work done.

"I enjoyed the 20 minutes I was on and though it was fast and loose at that time, I felt we were quite clinical in that time as well."

The 28-year-old, who has had previous stints at Newcastle Falcons and Harlequins, knows that the Six Nations window is a hugely important time for him to make an impression after largely making do with game-time at club level for Ballynahinch or in Ulster A's under-achieving British and Irish Cup campaign.

"Yes, it's a really good opportunity and I'm looking forward to taking it," says Browne whose father grew up in Belfast and was educated at Belfast Royal Academy.

And with second row Lewis Stevenson having already departed for Exeter Chiefs, while fellow locks Dan Tuohy and Iain Henderson continue to nurse their injuries, Browne also knows that tomorrow night's match against the 10th-placed Dragons is non-negotiable when it comes to making a statement to bossman Les Kiss of what he can offer.

He is in line for what will only be a third start and, with Franco van der Merwe expected to be rested, Browne must have a wholly positive input into what Ulster hope will be a second successive PRO12 win since last week's return to league action at Treviso.

Getting the right results in this six-game segment of league games, with three now on the bounce at the Kingspan Stadium, should put Ulster in a very good place - their bonus point victory at Treviso put them in fifth but, thanks to most of the top four losing, just three off leaders Scarlets - regarding their ambitions of making the play-offs.

So Browne and his team-mates appreciate that a lot rests on their shoulders with the front-liners otherwise engaged with Ireland.

"The focus is against the Dragons but the next weekend we've got Glasgow and then the Scarlets on the Sunday after that," he says.

"These three home games are really big for us and we're looking forward to the challenge and, hopefully, we'll get the wins."

Browne argues it's now about making the most of the chance to be part of Kiss's match-day squad.

"Yes, there is disruption (due to the Six Nations) but it leads to a healthy environment. It's actually an exciting time," he says.

Yes, but winning is what it's all about.

Pro12 League: Kingspan Stadium, tomorrow 7.35 pm


NG Dragons

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