Andrew Warwick poised to make his 100th Ulster appearance
Andy Warwick is one of those all round decent guys with no airs or graces who just goes about his business on the pitch.
The Ulster prop will make his 100th appearance for the Province this weekend against Munster in the first of the season’s Guinness PRO14 Irish derbies.
The former Ballymena Academy student has been a regular feature in the Ulster front row in recent seasons and century mark has crept up quickly.
The humble loosehead - who can slip over to tight with equal aplomb - admits he never thought he would be playing 100 games for Ulster, but is delighted all the same to reach the milestone.
The last man, alphabetically, on the current Ulster squad made his debut in October 2013 coming off the bench against Cardiff Blues.
Since then his dedication, and willingness, to learn has seen him become a highly rated technical prop.
“I remember that first cap well. I came on for Tom Court and I remember the ball went off the top of a lineout to Jared Payne and he broke through.
“I somehow found myself in the support line and got absolutely nailed by big Filo Paulo.
“It was a good introduction to professional rugby,” he smiles.
A debut start soon followed and the rest is history.
Warwick admitted he had been so nervous ahead of getting that first start.
“I had been on the bench four or five times before that and didn’t get on.
“The nerves just build up, but once you get the first one, you’re obviously still nervous before every game, but you don’t think how many caps you’re on.”
In terms of highlights, the Ballymena man selected a few which stood out to date.
“Probably some of the big European wins - Clermont, Toulouse back to back and maybe getting my one and only try against Treviso in 2015 which was good fun. I enjoyed that,” he beamed.
Was it a run-in from some distance?
“Yeah (laughing). Pete Nelson broke through and it was a two-on-one from about the ‘22’, so it was good!”
That jovial mood reflects why is such a popular member of the squad.
He shies away from taking plaudits and jokes that there are not too many fans chasing him for autographs - but he will happily stop and do it.
In spite of reaching the milestone, Warwick is focused on what needs to be done on Saturday.
Ulster face Munster at Thomond Park, Limerick and put the PRO14’s only remaining unbeaten record on the line.
Thomond has not been an unhappy hunting ground for Warwick in the past, recalling some good results previously against their Southern rivals.
“I think my first game down there, we took a bit of a second string team and managed to pull off a result. I’ve also drawn down there.
“We’ve had some good results there, but it’s always a tough place to go.
“As a pack we really have to front up, especially in mauls. You saw against Ospreys, they got two or three maul tries. We need to get that right this week.”
That win against Munster saw him playing tighthead against Dave Kilcoyne.
“I think that’s why I’ve got so many caps because I can shift over to tight head the odd time.
“It was tough and Kilcoyne is a really good player, but we did really well that day.
“Michael Heaney got over for a really good try and it was great to win down there.
“Hopefully we get that feeling again,” added Warwick.