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Afoa relishing competition for places at Ulster

Guinness PRO12 Editor

14 Sep 2012

Ulster prop John Afoa admits if it was up to him he’d play every minute of every game of his side’s RaboDirect PRO12 campaign – but he acknowledges the need to share the workload around the squad.

Last year, with Ireland international Declan Fitzpatrick a long-term injury absentee, the All Black front row was a mainstay of the Ulster side which reached the Heineken Cup final but missed out on the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs.

This term however, Afoa has already seen his time on the pitch limited, having started in the round one victory over Glasgow Warriors before finding himself on the bench last weekend against defending RaboDirect PRO12 champions Ospreys.

Afoa, who turns 29 on Sunday, made a considerable impact from the bench as Ulster snatched a late win at the Liberty Stadium and as a result he has earned himself a place in the starting XV for Friday’s clash with Munster – the first time two Irish sides have clashed this season.

And with Fitzpatrick back to full fitness, and Callum Black, Tom Court, Adam Macklin and Paddy McAllister all vying for a place in the front row, Afoa concedes he will have to do his fair share of watching from the sidelines.

“I just want to make sure that I’m there and doing the business,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“It’s always tough sitting on the bench. If you’re not playing you can’t push for selection so hopefully I did that when I came off the bench. It’s really all about the squad.

“It was a bit easier last year with Deccie being injured for most of the year. There wasn’t a lot of depth there but now he’s back and he’s been away with the Irish team.

“He’s looking for game time, I’m looking for game time and the younger guys need game time. It’s really all about sharing the workload.”