Ross: We cannot let concentration lapses cost us
After starting Ulster's opening Pro12 victory over the Dragons last weekend, Clive Ross has already equalled the amount of starts that he made in all of last season.
It was a testing campaign for a player who in the previous season had made plenty of progress in the first team but now that Ross has regained his place, he is determined to keep hold of it for as long as he can.
Iain Henderson, Chris Henry and Marcell Coetzee are still to come back into a competitive Ulster back-row and although Ross understands the level of competition he faces, an impressive performance against Dragons has done his confidence the world of good.
A Cork native, Ross, who is a cousin of Ireland prop Mike Ross, made his breakthrough on the back off an outstanding season under Mike Ruddock at Lansdowne in 2014.
An unsuccessful trial with Newcastle Falcons during his time with De La Salle Palmerston didn't dampen his ambitions and Ulster soon offered him a contract.
Ross is again likely to start at blindside flanker for Ulster when they travel to Treviso on Saturday but he was keen to stress his ability to play all across the back-row.
"It see myself as an all-rounder," the 27-year-old insisted.
"I've played a lot at seven and I got a few turnovers last weekend. I feel I can effect change at the breakdown.
"I also like getting on the ball and doing a lot of carrying as well as linking up with the backs and being a bit of a playmaker. Starting a number six could get me more game-time, so I have to take these limited opportunities."
Expectations up north are justifiably strong this season and a positive start against the Dragons has Ulster high on confidence facing an improved Treviso outfit who asked plenty of questions of Leinster in Dublin last week.
"It's early days yet, but these games really count," Ross said.
"You look at Connacht last year when they got off to tremendous start and just kept that momentum going right through the season.
"So any little slip-up will be damaging. Realistically, our target this year is the top two. Nobody has won an away semi-final at the end of the season.
"On Saturday, yes it's Treviso and sometimes it's different to get up for that type of game than it is say an inter-provincial. Certainly, as a squad, that is something we have to improve on.
"We just cannot let those little dips cost us when we come to the end of the season."