Tighthead prop Ross Kane will be a key component when Ulster enter the Guinness PRO14 Final series next week.
The Bangor man is one of a few fit senior squad props as Ulster prepare for knockout rugby when they face Connacht in a semi-final qualifier against rivals Connacht on Saturday, May 4.
Ulster will meet Leinster this Saturday, but the final game of the regular PRO14 league season has no bearing on final standings in Conference B, with both Provinces already assured first and second places.
Kane came on as a replacement 10 minutes into the game away to Edinburgh after Marty Moore suffered an injured, and with the latter now set to miss the rest of the season, Kane is key to Ulster’s knockout campaign.
“I think it’s always a good time to be a fit prop,” responded Kane to the time being right for him.
“It’s been a difficult season, this is the first one where everyone’s been as fit as frequently as they have, and it drives competition really well, but I think everyone has been at the top of their game and it’s been a good season.
“I think everyone gets a bit more excitement and hungry when play-off games are involved but we’ll focus week-to-week and worry about Leinster first, then take Connacht next week when it comes.”
Kane gave an impressive performance when he replaced Moore in the Edinburgh victory and can take confidence from that going forward.
“It was unfortunate Marty got injured but it gave me an opportunity to get a good 70 minutes under my belt, which I don’t think I’ve had since the Scarlets game, the second game of the season.
“It was good to get a good blow out,” he added.
Kane started out as a loosehead prop - captaining MCB to a Schools’ Cup final success - before switching to tighthead.
“I came up through playing the schools and U20s at loosehead and then had a few years of club rugby and when I came back into the Academy in there it was Bryan Young who said ‘you’ve got a good frame and size to push on at tighthead and I think it would benefit you. It was a good call!”