Pro14: Ross Kane poised to prop up Ulster's title challenge
Ross Kane is ready to step up and take on a more significant role as Ulster's season reaches its climax.
After limited game-time this year, the tight-head will start Saturday's Pro14 game against Leinster due to Marty Moore's season-ending ankle injury.
Kane played superbly when replacing Moore after just 10 minutes in the win over Edinburgh in Ulster's last game.
"It was unfortunate for Marty but it gave me a big opportunity and it was good to get a blow out," Kane said.
Kane, 24, is something of an endangered species as one of only four fit established props at Ulster, who will field a much-changed line-up this weekend.
With a home Pro14 quarter-final against Connacht to come at Kingspan Stadium on 4 May, many key players will be rested in Saturday's facile last Conference B game against defending champions Leinster.
There will be no so luxuries in the front row, however, with Kane and Tom O'Toole the only fit tight-heads and Eric O'Sullivan and Andrew Warwick the fit loose-heads, though the latter can also play at tight-head. Ireland Under-20s props Peter Cooper and Callum Reid are standing by.
Kane stated: "I think it's always a good time to be a fit prop!"
"Marty's injury gave me an opportunity to get a good 70 minutes under my belt, which I don't think I've had since the Scarlets game, the second game of the season.
"I think we've come on a good bit from where we were at the start of the season and how we're approaching our own scrumaging game. Hopefully that will show in the following few weeks.
"Everyone gets a bit more excitement and hunger when play-off games are involved but we'll focus week-to-week and worry about Leinster first, then take Connacht when it comes."
Kane made the transition from loose-head to tight-head on the advice of former Ulster tight-head Bryan Young, when he joined the academy a few years ago and is pleased with how it's turned out.
"Bryan said 'you've got a good frame and size to push on at tight-head and I think it would benefit you' so in the next few years I just gave it a go, and here we are now, so I think it was a good call.
"If you ask anyone else they'll say there's not a big difference but if you ask a prop they'll tell you it's two different positions, like playing forwards or backs.
"I think the main difference is repetition.
"If you spend your time as a loose-head and then you get thrown in at tight-head you're going to find it a bit alien just from the muscles and the way you've been working before, and then on the other side you're doing completely the opposite.
"At tight-head you've also two people to deal with as opposed to one, but both positions are just as difficult. It's just which one you get used to."