Luke Marshall believes the frustration of missing out on the current Rugby World Cup will help motivate him to return to top form for Ulster.
The Ballymena man had been in Irish coach Joe Schmidt’s plans until a frustrating campaign last season - beset by injury and suspension - saw him drop out of the reckoning for the World Cup.
Now fully fit, Marshall is aware that he has to reach the heights with his club side in order to force his way back into the international reckoning.
After a bonus point win on the opening night against the Ospreys, Neil Doak’s men were a well beaten second against the Scarlets but with tonight’s visitors to the Kingspan, Treviso, having lost their last nine games in the competition centre Luke Marshall believes it’s the prefect opportunity to bounce back.
“Scarlets was a bit of a disappointment, we knew that we going to throw at us and we really didn’t turn up and let ourselves down a little bit, sometimes it just doesn’t work on the day but now we have a good chance to set it right against Treviso but I think it will be a tough game,” said Marshall.
“We had a good bonus point win against the Ospreys and maybe we were a bit over confident going across to the Scarlets and didn’t give them the respect they deserve and we probably weren’t mentality there on the day, the preparation was good that week and we had trained well.
Four years ago during the World Cup Treviso came to Belfast and cause a huge upset with a 23-12 win over Ulster and two years ago they earned a 29-29 draw so Marshall knows the Italians can’t be under estimated.
“I didn’t play in 2011 but I remember watching it, Treviso have done alright in their first two games, they ran Edinburgh close and away in Munster they probably did enough to win it.”
“They are going to be very dangerous, they are always at their best when they are underdogs, it will be a tough game and they like the game to be loose and unstructured so we have to try and be disciplined and frustrate them.”
“We have got to aiming to definitely win, after are last outing we’re looking to put things right and put on a better performance and if we play to our capabilities we can get the job done.”
Marshall is forming a good partner side in midfield with Stuart McCloskey and has enjoyed moving from inside to outside centre.
“I haven’t played much 13 to this year but it is nice to play a different position and playing outside Stu who is a big physical ball carrier which takes the emphasis off me a bit.”
“The main difference at 13 is defence, at 12 you’re much more connected to the internal defence where at 13 you are being pulled a bit by the wind.”
“In attack it can be sometimes hard to get into the game especially if the game plan is a bit tighter you have to work yourself into it where at 12 you are normally just thrust into it from the start.”
“Stu is bigger and more physical so I like to think that I’m the brains of the operation and he’s the brawn but that’s open to interpretation.
After a number of concussions during his career Marshall has decided to don a scrum cap this season.
“I notice the scrum cap a bit because I don’t really wear it in training as were don’t do too much contact in training, the hearing and stuff is still taking a bit to get used to.”
“The reason I didn’t wear it before was because the tests on them were saying there was no conclusive evidence that it would stop concussion so that’s why I didn’t wear any but a few bangs last season I thought if I can get away with wearing one and it doesn’t annoy me too much and it does do me any harm and I don’t lose any awareness.”
“It’s hard to tell if it has made a different but obviously I haven’t had any this year, I think in the past all the knocks I got were unlucky and I imagine even if I was wearing a head guard back then I still would have go concuss.
“It’s difficult to know but for the moment I’ll keep on wearing one,” he added.