Tuesday 25 September 2018

Ulster must step up and play for the shirt, insists McCall

Kyle McCall. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile
Kyle McCall. Photo: Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile

Jonathan Bradley

The hurt is still clearly loitering, despite all the talk suggesting otherwise, but at least Kyle McCall wasn't in Parma and therefore has been spared having to share any first-hand testimony as to just how it went so horribly wrong against Zebre last Saturday.

Instead, the 25-year-old loose-head prop finds himself having to deliver the right message for what is to come tomorrow night in the first interprovincial derby of the season when Connacht visit the Kingspan Stadium.

And though it's hardly a piece of tub-thumping oratory, McCall still hits the mark when talking of what the squad now must do after encountering their first severe turbulence of this campaign. Namely move on but, above all, restore some pride.

"We just reviewed it and got past it pretty quickly," stated McCall. "We just move on. It's a 'next job' mentality.

"Last weekend we made error on error. As a squad if we make an error, which everybody does, you just go to the next job.

"You try to do the simple things well. We back ourselves on our basics and last weekend we weren't good enough against Zebre.

"We just lacked a bit of energy and, fair play to Zebre, they brought a lot of energy in their line-speed and that was something we didn't deal with."

Read more: 'We don't like them and they don't like us. It'll be physical'

Hinting at the shock and awe inflicted on Ulster by being outplayed by an Italian side, McCall outlines what wearing the jersey is actually meant to mean.

"We have the mentality that if you come off the bench you make an impact and if you have a starting shirt you want to make sure you leave it better than the person who played in it the week before," he said.

Message duly delivered, putting us all on notice that there should be a reaction tomorrow evening against a struggling Connacht side who have lost their last three games.

Of course, McCall is not quite the stereotypical prop.

Read more: Scannell aiming to edge battle of the Irish hookers

He likes to tear around the field with the ball in his hands and make his tackles - he was marked down for a body-wrecking 19 hits in the epic European win at Toulouse two seasons ago - which few in his position are known to particularly relish.

He's clearly got quite an engine too as was seen last month when McCall did 80 minutes against the Scarlets which was certainly eye-catching as starting props are usually called ashore after putting in a shift which rarely goes on too much beyond the early part of the second half.

Even though he has not been necessarily sculpted from the usual propping mould, McCall is still a fully signed-up member of the front-row union.

"It is always about scrummaging," McCall said without hesitation ahead of what seems likely to be his fourth start of the season.

"It's about getting solid and getting it (the scrum) to a dominant stage. Yes, I like to get around the park, and get the ball, but if the scrum isn't right all that means nothing," added the former Wallace High School pupil.



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