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Ulster's Reidy a clear and ever present danger

By Jonathan Bradley

Ahead of tomorrow's visit to Newport Gwent Dragons (7.35pm kick-off), Les Kiss will this afternoon fill out his 24th teamsheet of the season.

And for the 23rd time, Sean Reidy figures to be one of the first names inked in.

Last time out against Zebre, the native Aucklander was handed a first breather of the season having already racked up more than 1,600 minutes of action this season, comfortably the most on the team.

It's fair to say Ulster have gotten more than they expected from a player first signed on a short-term basis when he wrote to each of the four provinces requesting a trial when travelling through Ireland.

Capped by national coach Joe Schmidt on the tour to South Africa last summer - Reidy qualifies for his adopted nation thanks to his grandfather - he has become an integral part of the squad at Kingspan and Kiss has needed every ounce he can wring out of the 27-year-old with so many injuries hitting his back-row.

Even when confined to a watching brief two weeks ago, Reidy still finds himself wishing he was out there.

"It looked like a pretty fun game to be a part of," he said of the visit from Zebre that saw Ulster establish new team records for points and tries.

"The boys looked like they really enjoyed it and clocked up a few tries.

"It looked quite enjoyable, but we have a rotation policy I suppose so it was good to get a rest as well."

Such opportunities are sure to be few and far between over the coming weeks as Ulster face up to the news that Marcell Coetzee seems set to miss not only the rest of this season, but a chunk of the next as well.

The Springbok star was signed to much fanfare ahead of this campaign, but arrived with a torn ACL and had to wait until February to make his PRO12 bow.

Only four outings later - just enough to show the Ulster fans what they had been missing - and the 26-year-old has had to go under the knife again.

With the surgeon having operated on the same knee yesterday, Ulster are braced for another lengthy spell without their marquee import.

With Coetzee having brought real balance to the back-row over a five game winning run that has lifted Ulster back into the play-off spots, Reidy knows that he and his fellow loose forwards will have to step up in the absence of their talismanic number 8.

"As with any team there are going to be injuries and guys rotating in and out," he said. "It's important that whoever steps into those positions performs for the team.

"There is a lot of depth in the squad and we back every player. Guys are constantly jumping in and out, doing their jobs and that's what you want, especially towards the end of the season.

"We have lost Marcell but I'm hoping to get some good strong ball carries and be a good link man between the forwards and backs.

"I feel that is one of my strengths. I just want to get out there and play to those.

"I don't want to go out there and try to do what Marcell has done. I want to play my own game and bring my own strengths to it."

With or without Coetzee, Ulster must improve radically on their recent performances at Rodney Parade if they are to win a sixth straight league game for the first time since the opening months of 2014.

The home of the Dragons has been a house of horrors for the province, who have lost nine of their 14 visits in the professional era.

But Reidy wants the side to focus on maintaining recent performance levels not who, or where, they are playing.

"We can sit back and look at what we have done the last five or so weeks to get back in there or we can take this next run of games until the end of the season in our stride. We are starting to build momentum so we're looking to push on with the internationals back.

"It is a tough place to go, but it is mainly focusing on us and making sure we put in a good, solid performance." he added. Reidy himself rarely provides anything but.

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