Hot-stepping Lyttle honing in on rounding out his skillset with Ulster

‘I’m not the biggest so I have to avoid people some way.’

ANGUS O’BRIEN NEVER really had much of a chance of stopping Rob Lyttle with the Ulster wing in so much space down the left-hand side and moving at pace.

The Scarlets man accelerated into the possible tackle but then came the inevitable, but nonetheless impressive, left-footed step from Ulster wing Lyttle.


“I’m just waiting to see how hard he is going to commit himself,” says Lyttle of what was going through his head during the score above.

“It’s a difficult position to be in as a defender and it’s a very tough tackle to make, but I just knew if he was coming across hard enough I could go back on his inside.” 

The early score last weekend was Lyttle’s 14th try for Ulster in 38 senior appearances so far and many of them have featured his superb footwork. 

“It’s natural, I would say it’s probably the only thing I’m quite good at, thankfully,” says Lyttle of his ability to beat defenders.

“I’m a good stepper, I’m not the biggest so I have to avoid people some way.”

Lyttle has shown strong ability to step off his right foot too – notably for a crucial try in last season’s Pro14 semi-final win over Edinburgh – while he is also well capable of spectacular finishes in the corner even when he hasn’t danced past the last defender.

His rugby league-esque ability to get himself into the air and above last-ditch tackles is something Lyttle has been working hard on in training.

rob-lyttle-comes-up-against-ross-byrne Lyttle has been a real threat out wide for Ulster. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

“Dan Soper [Ulster's skills coach] would go through a lot of that stuff with us. It’s something we work on and I don’t know whether it’s brave or stupid, but I will always try it if I get the chance.”

Of course, wing play is about much more than the eye-catching attacking skills. 23-year-old Lyttle continues to work hard on the defensive side of his game, while his aerial ability is another big focus.

“I’m not that big in stature so for me it’s about getting myself into the right position and working early so I’m catching my ball at the peak height,” says the 5ft 9ins Donaghcloney man.

“The high ball can be used as an offensive weapon as well and it’s a massive part of our game.

“There are a lot of wee things I’m working on around my defensive skills with Jared [Payne, Ulster's defence coach]. They are really great at picking out parts of your game to improve.”

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel