Ulster’s rising star Scott Wilson embracing challenges on and off the field

BKT United Rugby Championship Ulster v Benetton (Friday night, 7.35pm, live on BBC Two NI & RTÉ2)

Scott Wilson
Ulster prop Scott Wilson speaks to the media ahead of Friday night’s crucial United Rugby Championship clash with Benetton at Kingspan Stadium (Pacemaker)

Scott Wilson has been one of the few good news stories to come out of Kingspan Stadium this season.

The 21-year-old Queen’s prop will make his 12th appearance of the season tonight in his second consecutive start for Ulster as they host Benetton in a crucial URC clash.

With Irish internationals Marty Moore and Tom O’Toole injured, the job of anchoring Ulster’s scrum falls on the broad shoulders of Wilson and his success in the white shirt this season has extinguished any thoughts of quitting rugby as he tries to juggle playing with studying.

“There are times when I have probably thought about giving up both, times when I’ve had injuries and thought this isn’t the right space with the rugby and times when I’ve thought the rugby is getting too much here, I don’t know if I can do uni as well,” said Wilson.

“But family and friends have told me to stay at it and say, ‘look if you step away from it you might regret it in a year but if you stay at it and get it done you’ll feel so much better at the end of it’.

“Dad has been there since day one and he was the one who dragged me down to the rugby club when I was afraid to step on the pitch.

“He’s been everywhere with me, over to France, Italy, over to England and then my sister has been following along as well, my family is huge, and they are there at your highest point and your lowest.”

Even on Ulster’s recent two-game mini-tour to South Africa, Wilson had the books with him.

“I was sharing with Harry Sheridan, who’s also studying at university, so we were both on the computer at the same time which was quite nice to bounce off each other,” said Wilson.

“One of the chapters of my dissertation was completed when I was over in South Africa which also gave me something to do in the evening and it was something I could use to keep my mind off the rugby.”

Ulster's Scott Wilson on a breakaway during his side's URC win over the Lions at the Kingspan Stadium on Friday night     Picture: Brian Little
Ulster's Scott Wilson on a breakaway during his side's URC win over the Lions at the Kingspan Stadium earlier this season Picture: Brian Little

Wilson has surprised himself with how quickly he has become established in the Ulster matchday squad.

“I probably started the year with the goal of getting one cap and then got that probably two weeks after I made the targets and then bumped it up to five or six and this is going in to number 12,” he said.

“I probably didn’t expect to get as many starts either so just taking it all week by week and day by day and going from there.

“It’s a bit of a step up from what I’m used to on the body and I’m managing that with university stuff as well, so that will be a bit of a relief next year when I have that out of the way. I’m enjoying every second of it.

“I have probably felt out of my depth in certain aspects of the game but I’ve known Richie [Murphy] a long time, having been with him in the U20s and have kept in contact with him.

“He says that I have got all his faith and that he believes in what I’m capable of doing so it’s just about me going out and doing what I’m capable of doing.”