Billy Burns aims to click with John Cooney

Ulster’s new will-o’-the-wisp fly-half Billy Burns is in ebullient mood ahead of tomorrow’s PRO14 clash with Edinburgh, one of only two teams that chalked up a victory at the Kingspan Stadium last season.

Billy Burns aims to click with John Cooney

By Jim Stokes

Ulster’s new will-o’-the-wisp fly-half Billy Burns is in ebullient mood ahead of tomorrow’s PRO14 clash with Edinburgh, one of only two teams that chalked up a victory at the Kingspan Stadium last season.

The 24-year-old, who arrived from Gloucester in the off-season, is thrilled to be working alongside Ireland scrum-half John Cooney, who he struck up a chord with as Ulster downed Scarlets in the season’s opener last Saturday.

Cooney, who kicked Ulster’s winning penalty in injury-time, was late into the squad’s pre-season training, but Burns feels the combination could be something special.

“Obviously, that was the first time I’ve ever played with him, but it took only a few minutes or so to realise how classy an operator he is,” said the younger brother of England fly-half Freddie who is now operating at Bath.

“He took a lot of pressure off and is a well-established goal-kicker. He kicks very well and his whole organisation is great. It’s only going to get better, the more we play together. I probably didn’t expect to settle in as quickly as I’ve done.

“Hopefully, we can build that relationship and, obviously, we know there is a lot of competition in the side and I’m certainly not expecting to play week in, week out, as I know I’ve got to perform well, but the more minutes we get together hopefully the better that relationship is which will hopefully help the team put in more positive performances.”

Burns, who is Irish qualified through his paternal grandfather, was blown away by the Ravenhill roar during his debut against the Scarlets.

“It’s been a real awesome challenge for me coming over here to sort of try and prove myself again, and it’s definitely a challenge I’ve enjoyed so far. Settling in has been really easy and obviously it helped when you win your first game.

“I think that last Saturday was just a glimpse of what we’re hoping to achieve. Do you know what, I don’t want to sound like I’m too cool for school, but I was pretty good all day, and then it wasn’t until I ran out and ‘Stand up for the Ulstermen’ was getting sung, and it sort of hit me a little bit then.”

Burns is braced for a big test against Edinburgh.

“We’re expecting something different than Scarlets. Edinburgh are a very well-coached team with Richard Cockerill there.... We’ve got a few areas we feel that we can exploit, but know we’re going to have to be a lot better than we were last Saturday.”

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