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Peter Nelson (file pic).
Peter Nelson (file pic).
Image: Alex Davidson/INPHO

'I'm really enjoying my rugby at the moment and I'm happy out there'

Ulster’s Peter Nelson has been given a new lease of life of late.
Mar 1st 2019, 8:00 AM 7,235 5

LAST WEEKEND AGAINST Zebre, Peter Nelson became the fourth player this season to be named at fly-half for Ulster as the merry-go-round at number 10 continues.

Injuries to Billy Burns and Mike Lowry had the Ballynahinch man on from the off against the Italians in what has been one of his best seasons with the province so far.

Under new head coach Dan McFarland, Nelson has been given a new lease of life both in the back three and now as the latest player to be tasked with running the line from fly-half.

It’s helped that he’s stayed injury-free, making him an ever-present for selection, and with six starts and four appearances off the bench, he’s set to make a record 11th appearance in a season when he faces the Dragons this weekend.

The 26-year-old has been a frequent contributor for Ulster over the last eight seasons but it’s only this season that he feels he’s really making his impact on the team.

“I’ve had a good run, body’s feeling good and I’ve been involved quite a bit,” says Nelson. “I want to play as much as I can and the more you play, the more opportunities you get, the more comfortable you feel out there and the more confidence you have in your game.

“I was out for a long time, got back playing from that and I said to myself you have to enjoy every minute of it because when you’re out for so long you miss it, you really do.

“I’m really enjoying my rugby at the moment and I’m happy out there.”

Moving to fly-half last week was the latest string in his bow, one which he has used before but only sparingly, as he filled in with both Burns and Lowry on the sidelines.

It may have been the maul that stole the headlines by scoring four of the eight tries in the easy 54-7 victory, which took Ulster up to third in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14, but Nelson did get over the whitewash too.

The ‘Hinch utility back spun his way over the line eight minutes from time for the score in a strong performance from out-half that saw him run the back line with control and composure.

Peter Nelson and Jacob Stockdale Nelson with Jacob Stockdale. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

It’s something that he can use to strengthen his claims for more game time as the season moves into its latter stages, with Nelson also out of contract at the end of the current campaign.

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“It was a good game for a 10 to be involved in, our forwards laid a pretty good platform, our maul was going well, across the pitch they were going well and got me front-foot ball for the whole game,” adds Nelson of the win over Zebre.

“So as a 10 that’s all you’re after really. It was a good game to be involved in.

“I’ve just got to get out there and enjoy playing. If I’m enjoying my rugby, I’ll go well, and it helps when the team is going well because then you can slot in seamlessly and the performances stay where they are.”

This week Ulster will be hoping to maintain their recent good form when they go to Conference B basement dwellers the Dragons aiming to extend their winning run to three games and stay in the play-off positions.

A traditionally tricky away venue, particularly during the international windows, UIster’s record in Newport isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a tough task for the visitors.

However, after Benetton put 57 points past the Welsh region last weekend, and with Ulster buoyed by their own recent resurgence, they’ll head to Rodney Parade in the knowledge that this is a great chance to bank some points on their rivals.

“Rodney Parade is a tough place to go to, I’ve been there a few times,” says Nelson, who is likely to get the nod at fly-half again despite the return of Burns from injury.

“Tough place to get a good win and I think they’ll be very physical this week, they’re coming off a big defeat last weekend so they’ll be up for it. It’ll be a lot tougher this week.”

Bernard Jackman joins Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey to discuss the backlash to World Rugby’s league proposal, captaincy styles, sports psychology and more in The42 Rugby Weekly.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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