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Ulster’s Timoney flattered by comparison to great Wallace

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Nick Timoney (above) has been compared to another great Ulster openside in David Wallace. Photo: Sportsfile

Nick Timoney (above) has been compared to another great Ulster openside in David Wallace. Photo: Sportsfile

Nick Timoney (above) has been compared to another great Ulster openside in David Wallace. Photo: Sportsfile

As two Ulster legends with a combined four Lions tours between them sat in the BBC NI studio at Kingspan Stadium and debated the performance of Nick Timoney in Friday night’s victory over the other Lions, the Ulster back-rower brought to mind a man famous for showing differing shades of red.

While Rory Best mused upothe potential international benefits of Timoney excelling in the seven jersey in recent weeks, Tommy Bowe revealed that the 25-year-old’s skillset in that openside position had him harking back to his former Test team-mate David Wallace.

The 75-times capped Munster legend, blessed with a varied skill-set that marked him out as ahead of his time at the turn of the century, was such an accomplished player that he even was a favourite of a young Timoney who, at that stage, was firmly ensconced in Leinster territory at a time when the rivalry had perhaps never been greater.

“I loved David Wallace so that’s a pretty big compliment to me,” said the 25-year-old who won his first Ireland cap against the USA in the summer. 

“It’s an incredibly generous comparison for me and he was one of my favourite players growing up so maybe bits of that rubbed off.

“I guess I can sort of understand that. I’m obviously nowhere near as good as he was but from what I gather about him, he pushed himself in as many areas as he could and that’s something I’m trying to do.

“One of the things that separated him out from other people was that he wasn’t necessarily huge but certainly very strong and very fast. I’m trying to get as big and strong as I can be, be as fast as I can be and maintain my fitness as best as I possibly can. So we’re maybe a similar build now and pushing those similar areas.”

Timoney has already spoken this season about how upping his involvements this season is something he has focused on improving following his break-through campaign a year ago. Coming into the weekend, he led Ulster in tries, turnovers and carries and was second only to Alan O’Connor, while in the side’s four games so far he is yet to miss a single minute of action.

With his two tries on Friday taking his seasonal tally to five, he has already matched his previous high for a campaign, something he feels is a product of that desire to leave a more consistent imprint across the game.

“It’s not something where I think you can go out hunting tries or anything, those opportunities have to come your way,” he said after a 26-10 win, somewhat muted by the seemingly serious leg injury sustained by team-mate Will Addison early in the second-half. “But I’ve certainly been pushing myself to get more involved and to run more of those lines and be in more places.”

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If the tries are only the product of an overall package, still, they surely help to get noticed, something that could come in handy with Andy Farrell’s latest Ireland squad to be unveiled on Wednesday. 

Farrell has plenty of options in the back-row with Jack Conan and Tadhg Beirne available again fresh from their Lions adventure in addition to others like Max Deegan and Dan Leavy returning to fitness.

While it is a return to the Aviva Stadium that is on Timoney’s mind this week, it will be Saturday’s interprovincial derby with Connacht rather than the games against Japan, New Zealand and Argentina which begin a fortnight later that is occupying his thoughts.

“I didn’t know that,” said Timoney. “I think my focus is on Connacht in Dublin. Whatever else comes on the side is on the side, but ultimately I’ve one job this week.”

 


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