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Warwick delighted to overcome injury problems and start to show his true potential in Ulster jersey


Forward march: Ulster ace Andy Warwick is keen to continue improving at the Kingspan Stadium

Forward march: Ulster ace Andy Warwick is keen to continue improving at the Kingspan Stadium

�INPHO/Craig Watson

Forward march: Ulster ace Andy Warwick is keen to continue improving at the Kingspan Stadium

The query was presented to Andrew Warwick at the tail end of his media duties, but instead of blandly concurring, he came back with something rather more direct.

So, when asked if the 29-year-old's recent deal extension until 2023 came as a relief considering his recent injury history, and the fact that he would normally be behind Eric O'Sullivan and Jack McGrath when it comes to inking in available names at loosehead prop, Warwick chose this moment to, well, put it out there.

"I wouldn't say relief," the player with 130 Ulster appearances already in the vault made clear.

"I'd say I worked hard to get to that point (the new deal) and I think I deserved it from a few of my performances.

"And I'm willing to push forward now and not just be happy to be sitting as second choice.

"I want to really try and better myself," stated Warwick, who made his Ulster debut back in March 2014 and brings further value as he can play on both sides of the scrum.

He gave a timely reminder of what is on offer at Connacht back in December's festive inter-pro when coming on to solidify a crumbling Ulster scrum in what was only his fourth game back after complicated hip surgery.

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Indeed, the Ballymena native's desire to stay in the game had already been severely tested by issues caused by his sciatic nerve.

The problem had begun in summer 2019 and then just wouldn't go away. Something had to be done and the surgery option would have been taken earlier but for lockdown.

"It was niggly and I tried to play through it but by March last year it was getting bad so I tried to rehab it but it didn't do the job so I then had to wait until the middle of August to get surgery," Warwick recalled.

"Basically my sciatic nerve in round my glute was getting caught and they had to release tissue putting pressure on it.

"Just before I decided to get the operation it was really a decision on whether it would work or whether I would (keep trying to) play through it. Thankfully, I think I made the right decision."

As for Saturday's game with Leinster, the encounter doesn't quite burn as brightly as had been hoped for.

The safe money now looks to be on Ulster falling short when it comes to overhauling their southern neighbours at the summit of Conference A, as Dan McFarland's side are six points adrift with just three to play.

"All we can control is trying to win our next three games and hopefully Leinster will slip up as it's obviously out of our hands now," said Warwick, who has been on winning sides against Saturday's opponents when they have previously rocked up in Belfast.

"For us to get to that next level, we have to beat them and we'll maybe not have a better opportunity than this week," he added of a Leinster squad missing so many with Ireland and a game Leo Cullen's side can probably afford to lose without wrecking their plan to make the PRO14 final again. "If we're going to prove to others that we're good enough, we have to beat Leinster."

Another of those direct answers from a man who prefers to tell it as he sees it.

Meanwhile, Ulster have announced that prop Ross Kane and Academy back-rower Dave McCann will be staying at Kingspan Stadium.

Twenty-six-year-old tighthead prop Kane made his 50th Ulster appearance last weekend and will be around for another year.

McCann, who has skippered Ireland U19s and U20s, is viewed as a player with a bright future and will move to a development deal next season before being upgraded to senior level.

The 20-year-old has already made his senior debut for Ulster this season.

Belfast Telegraph

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