With Dan Tuohy out for 12 weeks with a broken arm and Iain Henderson set for hip surgery this week, Neil McComb knows that there is now more responsibility on his shoulders than arguably any other time in his Ulster career.
With games against Zebre, Edinburgh and Glasgow coming up, Neil McComb is set for plenty of game-time as Ulster bid to maintain their position near the top of the GUINNESS PRO12 table.
However, the 31 year-old, who has played 41 times for Ulster, is looking forward to the challenge of playing more regularly in the coming weeks.
“Obviously for Dan (Tuohy) it is disappointing,” McComb told www.UlsterRugby.com. “For me, I have to look at it as an opportunity. I need to put my hand up and say pick me. I am here to play rugby and I want to be playing week in, week out.”
Up next for McComb and the rest of the Ulster squad is that challenge of a Zebre side that are always tough at home.
He added: “Zebre are a very physical side, especially at home. They have passion and pride and we know it is going to be a tough game (on Saturday).
“Games against them in the past have been very close. We know that we have to play for the full 80 and take it to them.
“We know that they are going to physical so we just need to do the small things right, be competitive in the first 20 minutes and go from there.”
Franco van der Merwe is a new face in the Ulster lineout this season and McComb has enjoyed the brief time that he has played with the South African so far.
“He is great. Last weekend (against Cardiff) was the first time playing alongside him. It’s nice to have a fresh face in there. He has been calling the lineouts and is like Johann (Muller) in the leadership that he brings.”
One of the features of Ulster’s performance in the Welsh capital was the excellent return rate from the lineout. Ulster had 12 lineouts and won all 12. That standard is something McComb and his team-mates are keen to maintain in Parma this weekend.
“It was nice to see, because we worked hard in pre-season on it (the lineout) and to get rewards from it is brilliant.
“Hopefully it will go well again this weekend and we play well as a team, because we have to be coming away with a win in games like this if we are going to be successful at the end of the season.”