THE COMPETITION for places in the Ireland midfield for next month's Six Nations is set to be fierce and Darren Cave reckons he remains in the frame.
The Ulster centre started the November win over Georgia but did not feature in the bigger games against South Africa or Australia, but he's happy with his form and hoping to catch Joe Schmidt's eye over the remaining weeks before the campaign kicks off against Italy in Rome.
While the province have struggled for form under head coach Neil Doak, Cave is satisfied with his own game.
"Individually I have been very happy the way things have gone so far this season. So for me it's all about trying to keep that momentum going," he said.
"It's funny how Brian (O'Driscoll) has gone nearly a year now and there is still so much talk about who is going to play in the centre.
"One thing that I was always adamant about is that if I played a lot of good rugby with Ulster I wouldn't be too far away, whether it's at 12 or 13.
"Certainly Robbie (Henshaw) has done particularly well at Connacht this year, but I still think that who ever nails down the Ulster 12 or 13 jersey can't be a million miles away."
Cave's primary focus remains on the white jersey, however, and regaining their place in the top five when they travel to Treviso this weekend.
"I certainly think our performances over the past two weeks have been better. The only we have to change now is the scoreline," he said.
"It's tough at the top. Last week all the top four teams lost. For us it's a bit of a different situation that we find ourselves in.
"This game in Italy is usually a precursor to a couple of massive European games.
"We now know that while in the past you could have maybe taken a little eye of ball and look to Europe, but not this week and not this season."