‘You feel a bit guilty stealing man-of-the-match from someone like that’

WILL ADDISON WAS pleased to win his first man-of-the-match award for Ulster on Friday night in Llanelli, but he didn’t quite agree with the decision.

The 26-year-old was a key cog in Ulster’s superb bonus-point win over Scarlets, a result that brings them firmly into contention for a Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final.

Addison scored a try, set up another and generally made a telling impact with his involvements in attack and defence for Dan McFarland’s side.

Addison was a try-scorer in Llanelli. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

But speaking afterwards, the selfless outside centre highlighted several other candidates for the individual honour.

“It means a lot but I wasn’t backing myself to get it,” said Addison at Parc y Scarlets. “Henry Speight had probably his best game in an Ulster shirt. He was great and we’re really excited to see what he can do in the few weeks he has left [before leaving].

“He’s been a great addition, so I was delighted for him to get the try, he was brilliant out there. And you look at Louis Ludik, coming back from injury, who was great. Louis has been a really good stabiliser for us at the back.

“The list goes on. Eric O’Sullivan putting in 80 minutes at loosehead prop, you feel a bit guilty stealing the man of the match from someone like that.”

Addison might laud the impression Speight has made with Ulster since signing, but it is the former Sale Sharks club captain who looks like the best capture of all.

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Having joined Ulster over the summer, Addison has found his feet rapidly and will be a vital figure again as McFarland’s men look to back up their exploits in Wales with victory in this weekend’s return leg against Scarlets at Kingspan Stadium.

“There’s a bit of elation there for sure but the great thing is we’re looking to next week already,” said Addison on Friday night.

Addison spoke post-match at Parc y Scarlets. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“It’s a good sign of progress that we’re not celebrating the win too much. It’s one of our best wins to date but the eyes are firmly on making sure we don’t slip up next week at home because it’s a massive thing for us backing it up.

“We’re an ambitious group and the knock-out stages are something that we’ve targeted.  To come away from one of the tougher places in Europe with a bonus point is a real credit to the group and a real credit to the guys we left behind in Belfast as well.

“What they’ve done over the international period has been great and they really prepped us well.”

Addison and fellow backs Jacob Stockdale and Speight were joined on the try-scorers list by back row Marcell Coetzee on Friday and though the backline play was impressive at times, perhaps most encouraging of all was the performance from Ulster’s pack.

Much-maligned in recent seasons, Ulster’s forwards provided some major moments with scrum and maul penalties against Scarlets.

“They’re huge, it’s such a lift and just gives you some oxygen in the really tough moments in games when the forwards come up with something like that,” said Addison.

“As a backline, we’re doing the easy stuff and watching them. They performed really well again, Eric O’Sullivan, Tom O’Toole coming off the bench.

Addison collects his award. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Marty Moore is someone who’s not getting much credit at the moment but he’s come in and really pushed those young props and I thought he did really well again today.” 

All over the pitch, Ulster showed their character again as they found a clinical edge to match it.

Scoring the tries is crucial but moments like Ludik and Speight’s try-saving tackle on Steff Evans in the left corner late in the game speak volumes for how Ulster are building.

“We never give up on a play,” said Addison. “I’ve got to apologise to the boys, I put them in a hole there and they dug me out of it so I was grateful to them.

“It shows that die-for-each other mentality that we’re really building and that’s why I’m loving being part of this group.”

Originally published at 08.27

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