Ulster Rugby v Dragons

Twelve Months ago, Michael Lowry was sitting on the sidelines with a frustrating groin injury, his first year in the Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy a washout. LOWRY KEEN TO BACK UP IMPRESSIVE OP APPEARANCES

A year later, last week to be exact, the former RBAI standout started at full-back in the Heineken Champions Cup in Paris against Racing 92 and set a new record for the most metres gained by an Ulster player in a European game. To say his rise since a return from injury has been rapid would be doing Lowry a disservice. He played once for Banbridge in the All-Ireland League to finish last season, represented Ireland U20s at the Junior World Cup and has now forged a place for himself in the senior set-up. A much-vaunted prospect within the Academy system, Lowry will be best known for his captaincy of the RBAI side that won three successive Danske Bank Schools’ Cup titles from 2015 to 2017, and now it seems he’s carried that form into the senior Ulster team. And so far the 20-year old has taken it all in his stride. “You always have to believe in yourself, but you wouldn't believe it if you were told!” laughs Lowry of his call-up to the seniors. “It's still a shock to the system, and it's what you aim for and dream of doing, so for it to come along so soon is incredible.

“It's been pretty surreal, but it’s been a great experience to have. Being at home for my first start was a good experience, and they were two massive games in the European Cup so hopefully they can stand me in good stead.” Having been a part of that all-conquering RBAI team, led by now-Ulster Skills Coach Dan Soper, naturally a lot of talk surrounded the talented fly-half, who was one of their top performers in the backline alongside fellow Academy centre James Hume. Now, having made his senior bow and so far lived up the hype, there’s pressure on Lowry to keep up that high standard of performance and firmly establish himself as one of the cornerstones of Ulster’s squad. “You can't really think about what others are saying,” Lowry insists. “You want to get better, so you look at what you didn't do so well during a game and focus on getting those up to what your good points are. “Some of our attacking play during Europe was excellent, it was just finishing off a couple of tries. It's very important we can keep that intensity, that philosophy and that structure up to that standard.”



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