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Warwick Can’t Wait For Toulon Test

Warwick Can’t Wait For Toulon Test

Six months ago Andy Warwick was playing for Ballymena in the Ulster Bank League, but he has racked up 12 Ulster appearances since making his provincial debut in March. He is set to earn his 13th cap against Toulon, the reigning European champions, on Saturday afternoon.

It was something Andrew Warwick did not think it would be possible a few years ago when he was lining up to play All-Ireland League clubs and working for his family’s engineering company.

“I wasn’t in Ulster set-up at all, so I definitely wouldn’t have thought I’d be playing in a game like this. It’s brilliant and I’m enjoying every minute,” enthused the 23-year-old prop.

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He gained a place in the Hughes Insurance Ulster Academy before being rewarded with a development contract this season.

Warwick will come up against former New Zealand tighthead prop Carl Hayman on Saturday and having watched the legendary All Black as a kid, it is something he is truly relishing.

“He’s been one of the best scrummagers in the world over the past decade and a person I’ve looked up. It will be a massive challenge but one that I can’t wait for.”

Warwick made his European bow last weekend against Leicester Tigers and while the Ballymena man noticed a step up in intensity, he believes he adjusted well. “I felt pretty good out there to be honest. A couple of decisions didn’t go my in the scrums which I’m not sure about, but it was another learning curve for me and that’s important.

“We left too much to do with the mistakes we made early on but we came back well in the second half and scored a couple of nice tries. But we have to learn from last week, particularly at set piece time, to ensure we’re firing against Toulon,” he added.

The highlight of his brief Ulster career came at the official opening of the redeveloped Kingspan Stadium in May when Leinster were the visitors. That was before Toulon rolled into town.

“The Leinster match was brilliant. I remember running out and the atmosphere was absolutely amazing. I can just imagine it will be even better with Toulon coming here with all their stars.”

Having watched Toulon’s pool opener against the Scarlets last Sunday, Warwick is confident Ulster can get the better of the French outfit.

“We’ve prepared very well through the week. We have to work on disrupting their set piece, competing well at the breakdown and getting up in their faces in defence to close the space down.

“We’ll be looking to have a far better start this week and I’m sure we will. It’s a huge game and one that we can definitely win.”