'Inspirational' Ross gives hope to Ulster late bloomer Lutton
Making his international debut at the ripe old age of 30 firmly places Mike Ross in the 'late bloomer' category.
Ross has spoken at length of how he benefited from playing abroad, and since returning from a spell playing in Canterbury, New Zealand, Ulster tighthead prop Ricky Lutton is eager to follow in the Cork native's footsteps.
Lutton (29) has lined out for Emerging Ireland five times but has yet to be capped at senior level and he said that Ross' progress over the last five years have shown players that it is never too late.
"He put in a lot of time at Harlequins before he came back to Leinster and he worked really hard for everything that he's earned in the latter years of his career," Lutton said.
"He's such a good scrummager. There's the emergence of Nathan White as another example. It shows that the door's not closed for anyone.
"Those two guys put in an incredible amount of work and more importantly some incredibly consistent performance for their provinces. That's what I have to aspire to.
"Mike Ross didn't just have 10 minutes off the bench making an impact here or there, he just made sure that he was doing it week in, week out. The consistent performances, that's exactly what you need to nail down a starting spot at any province."
Lutton will line out at the RDS this evening, a ground where he made his Ulster debut back in 2012, but it hasn't been a happy hunting ground in recent years as he explained: "We haven't won there for a couple of years. It was my first start that day, so I have happy memories down there and there's quite a lot of the squad were in the team that day.
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"We can take a lot from that. We know we can do it and we have the confidence to do it. But we know how much work it will take to win down there and how precise we have to be."
The Leinster front-row will be desperate to make amends having been annihilated by Bath last weekend and Lutton will be one of the Ulster players charged with attempting to stop them.
"Look at their front-row - two looseheads at the World Cup, two tightheads at the World Cup and three or four really good hookers.
"They have real strength in depth. We know it's going to be massively competitive. For all those guys who are in Irish contention, this acts as an almost trial for them.
"They're all gunning for starting spots. It's hugely important for them to right what happened against Bath.
"They'll have done a lot of work and will be coming out all guns blazing. We've to be on the money."
Lutton had been named to start for the trip to Oyonnax in the Champions Cup before it was postponed but missed out on a start against Saracens last week. He is out to prove a point this evening.
"I'm not owed that or anything like that. It's out of your control. Something we emphasise here is the impact of the bench coming on," he said.
"At prop it's not about coming on and doing something special, it's about going out and fitting in seamlessly."