James Hume, one of Ulster’s many young stars, wants to lay down another marker when Cardiff Blues provide the opposition at Kingspan Stadium tomorrow.
The big bustling centre is set to start his third game in succession and admits to eyeing a place in the province’s European squad.
The 20-year-old Belfast-born Hume says he is learning very fast following his competitive debut against Benetton before the autumn break.
“It’s been a long journey in a short couple of months, getting that first opportunity, and trying to take it as quickly as I can and obviously it’s benefitted me in getting me a couple more shifts.”
Hume, like a handful of the academy players, has been soaking up the knowledge being offered by senior players like Louis Ludik and Stuart McCloskey.
“They have been very, very helpful, and to have Billy (Burns) on your inside, he’s obviously well experienced. I’m not afraid to ask them questions along the way, so it’s been great,” explained Hume, who came through the RBAI system alongside his good friend Michael Lowry.
“I was thinking about this the other day. The exposure at that age is just going to obviously make us a lot more experienced when we’re older.
“It’s just playing with those players around you is just so beneficial even when you’re down at an academy session. Your energy is contagious to the other players and then those academy players will just start getting better and better so it benefits everyone.
“I think the lead up to my first start, I didn’t really think about it a lot, and then we were about to kick off, I was just like: ‘Oh my God, I’m playing for Ulster here.’ I do have to pinch myself sometimes.”