Ulster is ‘on the cusp to breaking through’, as Ireland starters

Robert Baloucoune and James Hume
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster back) and James Hume (Ireland squad member over the past one year

Eddie O'Sullivan claims that Ulster's talented backs talent is set to make a regular appearance in the Ireland team.

Robert Baloucoune has impressed as a semi-finalist in the United Rugby Championship.

O'Sullivan, former Ireland coach, stated that Baloucoune had a great chance to make the Test starting XV.

Andy Farrell, current coach, will name his squad for Tuesday's three Tests in New Zealand as well as two midweek matches.

“McCloskey is ahead of Bundee Aiki on my terms, and Hume is putting pressure upon Garry Ringrose. Although it will be difficult to overtake Ringrose,” O'Sullivan stated on BBC Radio Ulster's Sportsound Extra.

Lowry is not expected to return due to his injury. However, they all appear poised for a breakthrough and will be able to make it to the starting lineup.

“In the forwards Nick Timoney has been an impressive player too, but he is up against Josh van der Flier.

“If any frontliners are not available, these young Ulster players will step in and won't miss a beat.

Ulster “didn't support themselves enough”

Ulster was left with heartbreak after the final push. 17-15 to Stormers O'Sullivan believes that better game management would've helped them get to the URC semi final on Saturday.

“They were in a good position at halftime and had the right plan, to get the ball outside channels,” he said.

“The second part was where the problems started. They went in themselves a bit.

They needed to keep going and had opportunities but not as many as they wanted because they lost the territory and possession stakes.

They probably weren't strong enough to defend themselves and kicked the ball away several times. There was a possibility of a two-score difference with twenty minutes to go.

They were trying to defend an advantage and a five point lead is dangerous to defend.

Backline “has come alive”

Stuart McCloskey
Centre Stuart McCloskey, despite his success for Ulster has had difficulty getting into the Ireland squad.

O'Sullivan said that despite this disappointment, the exciting back division provided optimism for the province. He thinks they are now “the best team in Ireland”.

“Their backline was alive, the McCloskey -Hume midfield axis had been huge,” said the 63-year old, who has led Ireland since 2001.

McCloskey is a great player. He's a massive man and is such a threat to the ball.

“He has the power game, and he is a great passer and offloader.

He has helped Hume blossom with more space and more time on the ball. He is truly his own person.

“The improvements in Ulster's back play have been remarkable. While the pack has performed really well, my favorite part of Ulster's back play is its outstanding back play. McIlroy, Lowry, and Baloucoune have been lighting up the scene.

Listen to Eddie O'Sullivan's complete interview on Sportsound Extra Time BBC Sounds.

Leave a Comment