Craig Gilroy out to secure Ulster place after Ireland debut

Craig Gilroy is out to secure a regular starting spot with Ulster after impressing for Ireland in the recent games against Fiji and Argentina.

The winger had to settle for a place on the bench for his province's Heineken Cup double-header with Northampton.

"It can be annoying and frustrating, but it's important to get my head down, stay positive and try to do my best.

"Tommy (Bowe)'s injury opens the door but I would prefer to earn my place through hard work," said Gilroy.

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People mention that I am a lot younger than Tommy and Andrew, but I don't want age to come into it

Craig Gilroy Ulster and Ireland winger

Bowe sustained a serious knee injury in the defeat by Northampton on Saturday, which is set to sideline him for several months, leaving Gilroy and Andrew Trimble as the likely first-choice wing pairing over the coming weeks.

"It's good that the three of us have been playing well, as it keeps us all on our toes, but it is disappointing what has happened to Tommy. That's not how I'd want to get into the team."

Gilroy hit the headlines by scoring a hat-trick of tries in a non-cap match with Fiji in November, and followed that up by adding another touchdown during his first full Ireland cap against Argentina.

"I really enjoyed my spell with Ireland, and hopefully there is more to come in the international arena, but I am at the level now where I just want to be playing regularly.

"People mention that I am a lot younger than Tommy and Andrew, but I don't want age to come into it - hopefully I will get a bit more game time now and do what I can for the team."

The 21-year-old admits that the forthcoming interprovincial matches against Leinster and Munster will be "a liitle bit extra special", not least because "the national coaches will be watching and places are up for grabs".

"These will be huge games in front of big crowds and we want to bounce back from the weekend.

"A lot of the players are mates off the field, but on the field it will be a different matter."

"We know that we are still a strong team who can go a long way and hopefully pick up some silverware this season."