Ulster scrum-half predicts big things for the season
McIlroy expects to fight for a place but is confident he will be given an Ulster chance
Blane McIlroy has been awarded a development contract for 2012/13 with Ulster and he is dreaming of playing a big part in a successful season for the outfit.
The scrum-half has impressed for Ballymena and the Ulster Ravens and even made two senior appearances for Ulster last year, against Ospreys and Munster.
McIlroy played a big part in Ulster’s pre-season friendlies and will hope to be given lots of chances to impress as coach Mark Anscombe has previously outlined his intentions of giving youngsters lots of game-time in the coming season.
Ulster face Ospreys in the RaboDirect PRO12 on Saturday at the Liberty Stadium but McIlroy has not been named in the 28-man squad travelling to Wales.
Anscombe’s side beat Glasgow 18-10 on the opening weekend and are boosted by the return of Ireland duo Andrew Trimble and Stephen Ferris.
Rory Best and Chris Henry are still unavailable while Roger Wilson, Paddy Wallace Adam D’Arcy and Ali Birch are expected to return in the near future.
McIlroy recognises he faces a battle to get into the starting line-up but is confident he will get an opportunity as the coach is determined to blood younger faces. The youngster is predicting a successful campaign for Ulster.
Ulster are 6/1 to win the RaboDirecto PRO 2012 this coming season, with Leinster the favourites at 5/4 followed by Munster at 4/1 and Ospreys at 5/1. Anscombe’s side are 18/1 to win the Heineken Cup.
“It’s different from last year; he puts a lot of emphasis on the players, encouraging them to drive each other. This has meant that there is a lot more competition this year,” he said.
“The younger guys are no longer okay with being second best. Mark has definitely inspired the younger players to have that drive and ambition to compete for a place.
“The consistency is improving, the Heineken Cup was great, but we can improve. Leinster are a great team and I’m certain we can close the gap.
“The team is better this year too. It’s great to have Roger Wilson and Tommy Bowe on board, and with Jared Payne being back from injury, we have the makings of a top class side.”