The Irish speedster has impressed with his try-scoring feats in the Pro14
Ulster wing Robert Baloucoune
Date of birth 19 August 1997 Born Enniskillen Position Wing Province Ulster Country Ireland
When did you get involved in rugby?
I did football and athletics when I was younger, and only started rugby in secondary school. My first proper game was when I was 15. A lot of my friends played.
Did you like it straightaway?
I didn’t know all the rules so was giving away a few too many penalties, but I enjoyed it.
What positions have you played?
It was full-back at school. There were a couple of times I played centre, but I prefer the back three; there’s space to run.
Any childhood heroes?
I followed football more when I was younger and I’m an Arsenal fan, so Thierry Henry.
What are your strengths?
The coaches would say my natural speed; I try to back myself to run around someone and beat defenders. In terms of defence, I’d back my tackling and ability to read defences.
I want to improve my kicking game and I tried to do that during lockdown – chip-and-chase, the ability to kick on the run.
When did you link up with Ulster?
I was 17-18. I played for Ulster U19 in my last year of school, then dropped out the following year. I was injured and lost interest because I wasn’t able to play or train. Then I played for Enniskillen, my club, and by the end of the season I was fully fit and got picked up again. I think the year out did me well as I then played for Ulster A and eventually the seniors.
Any representative honours?
I’ve played for Ireland Sevens, which was a good experience. You’re under more stress in sevens and have to make sure you’re able to do the fundamentals. It helped me as a player as when I came back to 15s I wasn’t under so much stress, I had more time to make decisions in a game.
What do you want to achieve in the next 12 months?
I want to push myself through for Ulster and if that leads to an Ireland cap, I’d be happy enough with that.
RW Verdict: He scored six tries in seven starts for Ulster last season and was named as a development player by Ireland. Hamstring surgery has stalled his progress, but if he recaptures that form he will be hard for Andy Farrell to ignore.
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This article originally appeared in the October 2020 edition of Rugby World magazine.
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