Will Addison: I liked to stand out by supporting Ireland while growing up in England
Will Addison likes to stand out.
He's done just that for Ulster this season and did enough to earn the captain's armband at his last club Sale Sharks. His performances for both were enough to alert Ireland coach Joe Schmidt and his outstanding displays led to the back making his Ireland debut in the side's victory over Italy on Saturday.
But his willingness to stick out goes back even before his playing days to when he was in school in England. Addison qualifies for Ireland through his County Fermanagh mother and, even though he would go on to represent the country of his birth at U20 level, he was more used to the green shirt than the white.
"I've got an Irish mother who instilled in me a real passion," he said. "Brian O'Driscoll was my hero growing up. I always liked to be the one different in school; supporting Ireland when I was younger.
"Playing in England, I was on a good pathway with them."
However, a chat with Ireland coach Joe Schmidt soon altered that path, helping to bring Addison to Ulster.
"It was an ambition, once I had a chat with Joe over the phone, to come over," he said. "To have a contact with one of of the best coaches in the world lights that fire inside you.
"It was a big decision to leave Sale, a club I loved, but I'm really enjoying the experience at Ulster and enjoyed the experience at the weekend as well."
Addison played the closing minutes of Ireland's 54-7 win over Italy on Saturday and is keen to push on with Schmidt's side.
"Amazing experience," he said of his senior international debut. "To do it in Chicago, a place that means a lot to us as a team, was a great thing as well.
"When you come off the bench, sometimes you're trying too hard and I was a culprit of that at times. That happens in games and opportunities didn't really come my way at the weekend.
"It's great to get the first one out of the way and I'll look to kick on now.
"Joe's done a great job of blooding people since the last World Cup. There's a 42 man squad, guys are coming in and out of the team and there's no drop off in quality at all. It's getting stronger with the way the PRO14 is going - the quality is rising. It's only going from strength to strength."
Ireland take on Argentina at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 6.30pm).
Belfast Telegraph Digital