Widely regarded as one of the most robust and competitive members of the Ulster squad, it is no surprise that Sean Reidy is enjoying being back in the cut and thrust of pre-season.
“The first block of three weeks is out of the way now, which was pretty tough and was used to get guys ready to push on. Now we’re into the second block and things have ramped up again and the coaches and other support staff are really pushing the guys, so it’s all good.
“The regeneration week has been really good for getting small niggles cleared up and getting yourself ready to rip into the next week. In terms of the actual training week, there’s a lot of learning, a lot of meetings, and guys are taking all that information in and trying to transfer it to the training pitch.
“A big thing for us at the minute is to drive each other on internally so there’s a real competitive edge to all sessions, which is great to see.”
Head Coach Dan McFarland has already referenced the importance of getting off to a good start when the PRO14 action returns on 27th September, and Reidy admits the players also have their minds focused on those opening rounds.
“Those first few games are definitely in the back of our minds already, and everything we’re doing on the pitch and in the gym is relating to those games to make sure we hit the ground running right from the start of the season. So all the players and management are just trying to make the most of every day to put ourselves in a good place for the season kicking off.”
As he prepares for his 6th season at Ulster, and with more than a century of caps under his belt, the 30-year-old could be considered one of the more experienced heads in the changing room. But Reidy is quick to acknowledge that he still has a great appetite to get better, while also feeding off the energy that the younger players bring.
“I don’t feel that old, but Stuart McCloskey reminds me every day how old I am! Every day these young guys are coming in full of energy and it really invigorates the whole setup. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can to better myself and make sure that every day I leave this place, I’ve learned something new or developed an area of my game.
“It doesn’t matter what age you are – you just have to keep trying to get better and better. If you are closed minded and don’t try to get better, your career could be over pretty quick. Every day I’m just working with the coaches and the other players to push myself to be the best I can be.”
The three back row places are quickly becoming some of the most keenly contested in the Ulster starting XV, and Reidy is certainly enjoying being part of that competitive mix.
“Over the last two years in particular we’ve built a lot of depth around the back row and there are more guys coming through the ranks who will also be pushing for spots, so the competitiveness is really good. It’s also great to see guys like Jordi (Murphy) and Marcell (Coetzee) get rewarded at international level for their effort and consistency, so hopefully they’ll push on to the World Cup. At the same time, when they’re not here, it’s up to the rest of us to maintain those standards and keep driving each other because we know when we play well as a loose forward trio, it goes a long way to helping the team perform well.”