Wellington-born former Connacht prop Rodney Ah You, who qualified for Ireland back in 2013, is relishing Saturday’s big Guinness PRO14 derby when in-form Leinster come calling to the Kingspan Stadium.
Ah You, who moved from the west of Ireland to Belfast at the start of last season, is attempting to find the form that won him three international appearances in 2014 when he came off the bench against Argentina, South Africa and Georgia.
Due to a litany of injuries and a loss of form, the former New Zealand under-age tight-head has been mostly used as an impact player with his bullocking charges opening up defences. He will be making his 27th appearance for Ulster, but only 12 with the number three on his back.
However, facing an all- international front-row with the Ireland skipper beside him is just perfect to whet his appetite.
“I couldn’t ask for a better game to come home to, especially trying to get a better result after the defeat against La Rochelle last week. It is an easy game to get up for, but it is awesome to have Bestie [Rory Best] back in the squad, especially playing alongside him. It helps my game to be better, as well, with him in the front-row,” said Ah You.
“He’ll pull you into line if you are not doing your job properly. He is a natural leader and someone that everybody in Ulster respects.”
While not featuring as much for Ulster as he would have liked, Ah You has no regrets about his switch from Connacht.
“I’m loving my time in Belfast. It is a nice set-up here at Ulster and you are coming to work in world-class facilities. I’d certainly love to stay longer, if given the chance.”
Ah You celebrates his 29th birthday tomorrow, the day before Leinster attempt to break a sequence which has seen the last eight encounters between the sides won by the home side.
“We’ll see how good they are on Saturday,” said Ah You. “They are a very good team, they have good, big players and quite a few Lions in their squad and it will be good to test myself against them, but at least the crowd is definitely louder here.”
Ah You has been impressed with the influence of Ulster coaches Aaron Dundon and Jono Gibbes.
“Jono has definitely brought a good, positive difference to the squad this year and everyone is on edge. Everyone respects what he says and takes on board what he brings to the squad.
“As for Aaron, I have learned some new things off him, which is really good, and we are making good progress with our forward pack with both of them.”
Ah You came on as a second-half replacement against high-flying La Rochelle last week.
“It was one of the heaviest packs I’ve came up against. I felt good when I got in. Our forwards did well against them, but it’s just too bad the scoreline didn’t reflect it.
“I’ll make the most of the start if I get the opportunities, and I’m always happy to be in the 23. I just want to win on Saturday. I don’t know what they are going to bring, I’m just excited to do a job, but we’re home and the crowd is definitely louder here.”
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