Nick Timoney, Ulster's man of the match against Sharks, says that keeping “a chip in the shoulder” has helped him improve his game.
Ulster's flanker was a key player in their final two games, helping them to win back the URC title.
After three consecutive league losses, they were in danger of missing out in the home quarter-finals. These were the same time as their Champions Cup exit at Toulouse.
Timoney admitted that she thought Timoney was guilty of “running out of steam a little bit over that dip”
It felt like a long season but you have those few weeks to look back at the best and worst games, see what worked and what didn't, and determine what mindset you need.
“Those few weeks off were an incredible time for me and the team.
It's like coming back to a gameweek, the excitement and freshness are back. You feel energized and it's the last stretch of the season.
This Dublin-born flanker is a regular fixture on Ulster's starting side and has established himself to be a key figure for the province.
The former Blackrock College Captain joined the team in 2016. He was initially in and out of the team at first, but he is now an ever-present member of the team and has made his international debut in the Ireland setup.
The 26-year-old said, “I guess that I always look in myself and at where I am in rugby career, and then I assess whether I'm happy.”
“When I was a child, or if I had been asked what I wanted to do at 26, I would have said that I wanted to win the Champions Cup, the league, and have played for Ireland 20-30 times, just like many of my mates have.
“Having people who are happy to be picked is the worst thing that you can have in your team.” “I just try to look at all the things that I don't have and all the things that I've failed at, and use them sometimes.”
Timoney was Ulster’s star performer, as they secured a quarter-final home victory over the Sharks. A confident performance that almost led to disaster saw them concede two late tries and see their seemingly secure lead shrink to three points in the last minutes.
But they managed to win the crucial victory. Timoney was awarded man of the match for his energetic display in attack as well as defense.
He said, “Ultimately I know where I stand in the squad,” after the win.
“I've been able to play in almost every game this season so I feel fortunate, but also in a position such as the back row, a few months off form and it can all go away.
“From my point, it's keeping the same chip on mine and the same hunger as when I wasn’t getting picked at any.
“I have just tried to think differently. I am aware of how fickle life can be. It's not a matter of becoming comfortable. You will likely get left behind if you become comfortable.”