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A Night To Remember For 100-Cap Gilroy

A Night To Remember For 100-Cap Gilroy

Craig Gilroy became the youngest player to win 100 caps for Ulster when he lined out against Benetton Treviso on Friday night in the GUINNESS PRO12.

During the first half, it looked like it would prove to be a fruitless night for Craig Gilroy as both he and his Ulster team-mates took a while to find their rhythm, with Michael Allen the only try scorer for a 10-0 lead.

But Ulster, who have moved up to fourth following the victory, clicked into gear in the second 40 minutes, running in a further five tries, including a double for Ireland international Gilroy, in a 43-3 victory.

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Gilroy’s first score wrapped up the bonus point for the Ulstermen while he had the final word with an intercept effort in the closing minutes to make it six tries after previous scores by Stuart McCloskey and Andrew Warwick as well as a penalty try.

And while accepting his side had taken their time to click into top gear, the 23-year-old Gilroy admitted it had been a night to remember.

“It was very enjoyable and a proud moment to get to 100 caps,” he said. “I didn’t think it would have come round as quickly as it did. And to be honest I was a wee bit nervous going into it.

“I don’t really get nervous any more but I got a bit nervous just looking back. My first cap felt like yesterday and I was really glad that this happened at home.

“I was delighted to be starting as well. Yes, we faffed about a bit at the start but we ran in some very nice scores at the end there.”

Gilroy’s brace took him to five PRO12 tries for the season, while he has appeared in 73 games in the league in total, although the Ulster flyer is eyeing up plenty more.

“My first was very special away to Cardiff and I remember a lot of European games as well and really good memories as well. Long may they continue. I was looking at the shirt and took an extra few minutes before I put it on. And I count myself very lucky to play for Ulster, let alone run out for my 100th time.”

Meanwhile, Ulster Rugby have signed Samoan international out-half Mike Stanley on a short-term contract until the end of this season.

The 25-year-old had been training with Super 15 Rugby side, the Chiefs, and has signed for four months to be a back-up number 10 to Ian Humphreys. Both Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are currently out with medium-term injuries.

Born in Auckland, Mike is from a famous rugby family in New Zealand that includes All Blacks Joe, Jeremy and Benson Stanley. He moved to England as a child and grew up in Thurrock, where he attended the Gable Hall School.

His ability as a schoolboy saw him join the Saracens Academy and while there he played underage rugby for England at Under-16, Under-18 and Under-20 level.

He spent two years playing club rugby before he decided to head to New Zealand where he signed for Tana Umaga’s outfit, Counties Manukau, in 2012.

Last season, his performances saw him being brought into the Samoan squad for their 2014 European summer tour, culminating in him coming off the bench against Italy and then starting the following week, when he kicked 13 points in a 23-13 victory over Canada.

He has won three international caps so far, the most recent of which was against England at Twickenham last autumn.

Speaking about his short-term contract with Ulster, Stanley said: “This is a great opportunity for me and a real privilege to play at such a great province like Ulster. Irish rugby is known for having such passionate fans too, so I’m really looking forward to experiencing that.

“I am also looking forward to getting to know the boys and to have the opportunity to play alongside some real class footballers. I just want to get stuck into it now.”

Ulster Rugby’s team manager Bryn Cunningham commented: “Getting short-term replacements at this stage of the season is incredibly difficult, so to obtain the services of someone with international experience and who has been in a pre-season programme with a Super Rugby squad in New Zealand, is great for Ulster Rugby.

“With the current injury status in the squad, out-half was an area where we were a bit short. However, the imminent arrival of Mike will give us the comfort that we now have a more than capable back-up for Ian Humphreys.”