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Berquist determined to make his chance count

HAVING spent much of his time at the Canterbury Crusaders as Dan Carter's understudy, Mat Berquist is keen to make the most of his time as Leinster's first-choice out-half while Jonathan Sexton is away on Ireland duty at the World Cup.

Berquist, who has penned a one-year deal with an option to extend, started for the province last weekend as they made a losing start to the new season.

"There is about six weeks with them away and we've got to make sure we lead the team and get us through those weeks as successfully as we can," said Berquist.

"Ian Madigan is here too, so we're fighting for the spot and it's healthy competition."

In all, Leinster were without 14 internationals for the 27-3 defeat at the hands of the Ospreys, while the likes of Jamie Hagan and Fionn Carr also made their first starts since returning to the province from Connacht.

With Leinster welcoming the Dragons on Friday night, Kiwi playmaker Berquist is keen to make amends.

Meanwhile, Ulster will roll out their New Zealand star back Jared Payne for the Pro12 League clash against the Cardiff Blues at Ravenhill on Friday week.

The former Auckland Blues man flew into Belfast on Monday night to start a three-year deal, which he signed in March.

"Jared arrived earlier this week and we are giving him time to get used to the set-up and to see where we are at," said coach Brian McLaughlin.

Irish Independent