Robert Baloucoune does not do things slowly.

His rise up the Ulster Rugby ranks has been as quick as the pace he has shown in his last two games for the Province in the Champions Cup and resulted in a try in both games.

Thrown straight into the mix after a two-week suspension for the visit of French giants Racing 92 to Belfast, the 21 year old impressed in that dramatic victory and a week later he did it all again scoring a crucial try in the win over Leicester Tigers.

“I was a bit nervous returning from the Munster game. I didn’t really know what to expect. The training week went well. I went into the Racing game I knew they were full of world class players, but I tried to stay relaxed and there was a lot of talk from the boys like Will Addision and Louis Ludik just talking to you and keeping you right.”

For Robert the whole thing has exceeded even his expectations.

“It’s been unreal at the minute to be fair. It’s a bit surreal because I wasn’t really expecting to be playing much senior rugby, let alone Champions Cup rugby so it is quite a big step up.”

Having had limited exposure in the 15-a-side game, Baloucoune has been given the chance by Dan McFarland and he hasn’t let him down.

“I hadn’t played too much 15s because I was playing sevens most of last year so coming into this year, I was really just expecting to play Ulster A games and see how I got on. That was biggest aim, but I played a few games for the As and they went well, and Dan came up to me and said he had been watching my games and wanted to give me my chance with the seniors.”

The introduction into the senior set up has seen Robert rub shoulders with likes of Rory Best, Jacob Stockdale and Will Addison. And working with these players under the watchful eye of Dan McFarland has been hugely beneficial for the winger.

“They are really helpful. If you need to improve or need help, they will always be there telling you what to do and how you can improve with your game.

Especially Jacob, who plays in the same position. He explains it really well even though he is not that much older he has played in really important games and is having a great year.

“It has helped me improve my game having those players around me.”

Robert is also full of praise for Dan McFarland, who gave him his opportunity in an Ulster jersey and he hopes that over the coming months he can continue to repay the faith shown in him with a Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster in March the goal.

“I’m still trying to improve as a player, but I would like to be starting as many games as I can for Ulster and just secure a place in the starting 15. I haven’t really thought too much past that. I’ll just keep playing and see what happens.

“It’s been a right run in the Champions Cup and I’m hoping that Dan is happy with my performances and backs me to play against Leinster in the quarter-final.”

Next up for Ulster is a game against Benetton Treviso on Friday and with the Irish players away preparing for the Six Nations, it will give Robert and other Ulster Academy players a chance to impress.