A 16-times capped Wallaby and a former Brumbies captain, Sam Carter is relishing the chance to prove himself all over again as he gets set for his Ulster debut in Saturday’s pre-season friendly with Glasgow at Kingspan Stadium (1.30pm kick-off).
Tickets are available here from just £7 for juniors and £14 for adults.
The 6’7” lock has played in Europe before, a short-term deal with Bordeaux-Begles during the last World Cup, but found himself looking for a new challenge as his 30th birthday approaches.
“It gives me a chance to prove myself over here in an environment I’ve never been before,” he says. “I only met these guys three or four weeks ago, so I’m learning as I go, and with that you change and get better, and that’s what I’m hoping to do.
“I never wanted to get comfortable where I was. I wanted to challenge myself over here and I think this place, with the competitive environment it has, is the best place for me to do that.
“Watching Ulster from afar for a bit, I liked what they were doing and the trajectory that they’re on. I spoke to Dan McFarland and his kind of vision aligned with what I like in rugby clubs. The opportunity to come over here came up and I grabbed it with both hands.”
— Ulster Rugby (@UlsterRugby) September 4, 2019
He had a few team-mates to offer advice on the move as well of course, with both Christian Leali’ifano and Henry Speight having enjoyed their recent brief stints in Belfast before making returns to the Brumbies.
“I spoke to both those guys,” Carter reveals. “They’re both terrific guys, and they both loved the passion over here, they loved the way everyone cared, they loved the crowds, they loved the atmosphere, the programme. They were more than helpful in getting me over here and it was something I wanted to get involved with.
“It has been challenging – pretty much relocating my whole life and then getting here and going straight into it. I had a little bit of time off with my wife and then went straight into another pre-season. I’ve never done it before, so I guess I’ll see how I go.”
Already he can see similarities between his old club and Ulster, not least the desire to get their hands on some silverware.
“It’s a bit like the Brumbies… we got close a couple of times, played in finals a couple of years in a row and we didn’t bring home anything either. Over here, that’s where our goals align and hopefully, I can do the best I can to contribute to that.
“But if you start thinking about the end result you forget about everything you’re doing right now. At the moment, we’re focusing on doing everything we can to prepare ourselves for the first game.
“It’s not as different as people think, the training is just as intense. We do a lot of units, a lot of set-piece work and we did that a lot at the Brumbies.
“Obviously the weather is a little bit different. Where I grew up there has been a drought for the last six or seven years and I haven’t seen the sun since I’ve got here.
“I guess I won’t know the true difference in the rugby until we start playing so I’m just looking forward to doing the best I can.”
He gets his first chance this Saturday.