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Ulster’s Wilson To Lead By Example

Ulster’s Wilson To Lead By Example

Ahead of his first match as captain of his province, Ulster number eight Roger Wilson is hoping to set the standard for his team-mates in Friday’s pre-season friendly against Leeds Carnegie.

With hooker Rory Best, Ulster’s newly-named captain, and his prop brother Simon, the province’s vice-captain, unavailable due to World Cup commitments and a number of senior players on the injury list, Wilson will stand in as skipper for the visit of the Guinness Premiership side to Ravenhill.

It is a fitting honour for the back rower who was Ulster’s most used player last season – on the pitch for an impressive 1,591 minutes – and also chosen as the province’s Player of the Year.

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Commenting on the captaincy, Wilson said: “I was quite surprised when Mark (McCall) asked me to be captain as I have never captained a team before in my life, but I feel I have enough experience now at this level to step forward when I’m asked.

“There are a few people missing, but it is obviously an honour despite the situation.

“I don’t think I have any tactics or plans so we’ll just see how it goes. I’ll try to play by example and hopefully everyone will follow. There will be other senior players there who can help as well.

“I’ve played virtually non-stop for the last couple of years and it is nice to be recognised as someone who can step in and fill that role.”

Turning his attention to Friday’s opponents Leeds and next week’s visitors Gloucester, the 25-year-old added: “I don’t know if the result is the be all and end all of these two warm-up games. The whole reason for playing them is to try and put some structure into place from what you’ve been doing in training for the last eight weeks.

“It’s difficult as they are not always the most exciting or prettiest of matches – but we want to get a good, physical 80 minutes.

“There are always players who will put their hands up and cement their place in the team for the whole year and it’s exciting to watch new people who have been given the opportunity.”

Wilson, who was capped on Ireland’s 2005 tour to Japan, has warmed to Ulster’s new forwards coach Steve Williams, with the Welshman having made a considerable impression since taking over from Allen Clarke.

“It’s been going well with Steve. He has been doing a great job, getting on with the boys and bringing a few new ideas.”

For Friday’s clash, the 20-year-old Niall O’Connor will fill in for the injured David Humphreys in the Ulster team and the Derry youngster will put into practice what he has learned from the ‘old master’ over the summer.

“It was daunting to step up into the senior squad and mixing with all the internationals. But being able to work with Humph everyday and doing kicking with him has been great,” said the Ulster Academy out-half.

“It is great to have someone of that experience there everyday for me to ask questions and pick his brains. It has been like having my own out-half mentor. He has been there and done it all.”