Ulster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors


When Billy Burns arrived in the middle of last pre-season, he was still getting to know his team-mates by the time the PRO14 kicked off. BURNS

"That is something I can carry on learning going forward, but as a whole I was pretty happy with how it went last year. I know there is room for growth and there are a number of things I am going to work on this season to become the more complete player I guess. It is so tough to make a gauge on how you did in pre-season, but I think the great thing last year was we saw progression as we went on, which was great. "I think it did not help with Dan coming in so late and myself coming in late as well, but ultimately we have now had a block of 12 weeks where we have had time to really focus on what we are trying to achieve and what we are trying to do in certain areas of the pitch and we have had a few players who have been brought in to help us along with that who suit that style of rugby as well which is going to help." Despite having racked up a considerable tally of games with Ulster and Gloucester, Burns is still just 25. Having worked with David Humphreys at Kingsholm and now Dwayne Peel with Ulster, he has had some fine mentors in half-back play to preach the balance between adventure and pragmatism.

The whole squad, meanwhile, were getting to know new Head Coach Dan McFarland whose first day at Kingspan Stadium came even later in the summer. It was no surprise therefore that the Province were a team that seemed to grow throughout the year, really hitting their straps just prior to Christmas. Boasting much more familiarity with each other this time around, Burns expects to see the attacking game really take flight in 2019/20. "It is probably too long a list to sit here and talk about," he says about what he learnt in his first season in Irish Rugby. "I think for me I have always been a player who likes to play with the ball in hand, and it comes with experience and playing in big games I guess, but just being able to manage the team around me and obviously I have learned a lot from the coaches and other players. "I still feel there is plenty of growth for me in that area, but also I realise how big a 10’s influence on a game is and how if you are given that 10 jersey, it is your job to run the attacking side of things.



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