The Deloitte Ulster second row is relishing the game time she’s had since making her senior debut just two weeks ago…
Firstly, congratulations on your first Senior Ulster appearance against Munster – how did it feel to run out at home in front of supporters for your debut?
It was absolutely fantastic! The fans were unbelievable and I had so much support there; I could hear my name being chanted from all ends of the stands. I was absolutely buzzing – obviously I was nervous – but once I got on the pitch, I just forgot about it and played my game. Although we lost it was my senior debut at Kingspan Stadium which will be a special memory. I’m only 19 and it’s my first year in the senior squad. I was really proud of myself for making it there.
How is the mood in the squad this week and what did you make of the game against Leinster last weekend?
Everybody is absolutely buzzing because it’s finals week. Popcorn (Head Coach Neill Alcorn) is so excited, and he’s been fantastic the whole way through. He’s always so positive. We did a video review of the Leinster game; obviously it was a disappointing result, but we have reset and are going into this week with fresh minds. We’re all just really positive; even the girls who haven’t been selected have been so supportive of the starting team and subs. All the girls have been fantastic and we’re all looking forward to it.
What positives did you draw from that game that you can carry through to Connacht this weekend?
There were quite a few positives. Popcorn did a review and our line speed was really good in defence. Any of the goals he set for us, we carried out; we got off the line and made double hits. Although the score line didn’t show the positives, and we didn’t play as well as we would have liked, but we didn’t let a penalty or try in for nearly 20 minutes. You’ve got to take the small positives and that’s how you build the bigger things which is what we’ve done this week.
You scored a fantastic try on your first start for Ulster – that must have been a pretty special feeling, can you talk us through that try?
I was in the maul and took the ball down. I put my head up and just saw a gap with one girl there and I thought, “I’ll take her!”. I went around the side and that was it! It was a surreal feeling, and I couldn’t believe when it happened. It really lifted the team when we got that try. Whenever you score a try like that it gives the team energy.
How have you found integrating into the Senior squad this summer?
I’ve fitted in really well and can’t fault any of the players or the support I’ve had at Ulster. I was chucked in straight away in my first year into the squad that had been selected for the Summer Programme. I came over from Loughborough University and honestly, the girls were so lovely. Everybody was helping me on, patting me on the back and provided really good support. Popcorn and all the coaches were so nice; it was such a welcoming environment. That’s the best environment for me to play in and I think that’s why I’ve progressed so much; because I’ve had such good support from the players, coaches and my family.
We face Connacht in the final round of the Inter-Pros – what will Ulster need to do to get the better of them?
We’re really going to focus on our set piece so if we can do our own jobs well, I think that will bring a positive result for us. If we can all focus on our scrums and line-outs, we should beat Connacht at the set piece. That’s what we are hoping for and are going in with clear minds. It’s a fresh start, it’s finals week and everyone is excited. We’re just going to play our game. We’ve done all our preparation and Popcorn has given us all the tools to carry it out and now we just need to do it.
The Deloitte Ulster Senior Women’s team will take on Connacht later today at Energia Park (5pm kick-off). Watch live on BBC iPlayer / BBC Sport NI online / TG4.