James Hume is hoping the newly formed Celtic Cup can help him break into the Ulster senior squad.
Ulster are joined in the new competition by the other three Irish provinces and the four Welsh regions with the tournament widely believed to be used for emerging talent after both the British and Irish Cup and the Anglo-Welsh Cup were scrapped.
Ulster start their campaign tonight against Leinster at Gibson Park (5pm) and Hume who made his first team debut against Gloucester in the pre season friendly is looking forward to the challenge.
“It was a mixture of emotions, I’d kind of dreamt that day since I was younger, I was scared, excited and frightened of what was to come, I managed to take as much of it in as I could and I really enjoyed the experience it was great,” said Hume.
“This Celtic Cup campaign will be a real decider of what is to come for the rest of the campaign, I’ll just play the best I can in these up and coming A games and hope to get a shot later on in the season, I’m really looking forward to the six weeks coming in the Celtic Cup.”
“We have an experienced team this week pushing towards Leinster, I only got one game after injury in the B & I Cup last year this will be a first experience for me and this will almost only be all I know for A games, we’ll treat it the same and I enjoy the week to week where you’re straight back in.”
Hume is benefiting for the advice of the most seasoned players in the Ulster squad.
“All credit to the senior guy they are massive mentors for us and they aren’t afraid to help despite the competition.”
“It’s not so much messages of the week to come it’s just helping you gain experience slowly and slowly when you’re training if you do something wrong they are harsh on you that’s the environment you’re in but it really pushes you on and it prepares you for what is to come they aren’t sugar coating it which is the environment you want to be in and it is great for us.”
Hume is just glad to be back on the rugby field after an injury set back.
“It was a long eight months and it is great to get back 100%, the hard work paid of and I’m grateful to be injury free, the pre season was great because I missed it last year it was good to get a taste of it and credit to the S & C and the coaches because that has prepared us for the season to come.”
Ulster have going for a mixture of experience and youth in the starting line up.
Chris Henry captains the side from openside flanker in a pack that includes Schalke van der Merwe, Rodney Ah You and Pete Browne.
Hume is joined in the back line by young wingers Aaron Sexton and Iwan Hughes with Johnny McPhillips starting at out half.