Robert Baloucoune’s season only really started in earnest in November when he made his first appearance of the season for Ulster in their Pro14 game against Munster.

Surgery on his knee meant he missed the early rounds of the season, but the 22 year old has certainly made up for it in the six games he has featured in since returning to the Ulster squad.

Since that Munster game, when he came on for the last nine minutes, he has started the five games playing the full 80 minutes scoring four tries and impressing overall on the wing.

It was somewhat of a surprise to be thrown back in to the thick of the action so quickly after returning from injury, but the Enniskillen man was just happy to be out on the field.

“It was a bit difficult at the start with injuries and stuff like that,” explained Baloucoune. “But once I got my game time, I have really enjoyed the games and I have played well.

“I was really pleased when I was able to get back into the squad and when they put me in the starting team I was a bit surprised I was going to be starting straight away but I was happy that they backed me to play.”

The winger has repaid the faith put in him by Ulster coach, Dan McFarland, and his team with his stats making for some pleasant reading.

Four tries, 265 metres gained from 42 carries, 17 defenders beaten and 21 tackles made.

Baloucoune is part of an exciting back three at Ulster alongside Jacob Stockdale and Will Addison.

Addison, whose mother is from Kesh, has set up Baloucoune for scores this season and the former Skins player acknowledges how good it is to be playing with such quality players on a regular basis.

“I can’t really complain with who I am playing with. They are two world class players and that’s why they are involved in the Ireland Six Nations squad.

“They really help me and make my life easier. I’ve got Will chatting to me in full back or Jacob and it is a lot easier to play with them in an attacking backline like that.”

Stockdale is a regular starter for Ireland these days, while Addison is on the fringes of the team and while it may not have been a surprise to Baloucoune of their involvement in the Ireland set up for this year’s Guinness Six Nations, but the announcement of his own involvement as a development player in the squad which went on a week long training camp to Portugal was.

“I was pretty surprised when I got the call like an hour before it.

“I was shocked I was going to be involved in it but I really enjoyed out in Portugal I didn’t really know what to expect.”

Under new head coach, Andy Farrell, Ireland are looking to rebuild after a poor World Cup in Japan.

And the chance for the 22-year-old winger to get to be involved in that environment and speaking to the new head coach will add to his game and hopefully give him the chance to become a more regular face in Irish squads.

“It was class being involved in it and I have took quite a bit from it coming back in. Just small bits that you really wouldn’t think about those small one per centers that would change a game at that level and hopefully I’ll bring that back into Ulster whenever I am playing.

“He (Andy Farrell) took us in for one on one chats and he said to me about certain parts I can improve in my game, like anticipating breakthroughs in the line and bits and pieces where I can improve myself as a finisher and score more tries.”

With injuries a common part of the rugby, we may yet see Baloucoune link up properly with the Irish squad, if there is an injury to a player who plays across the back three, but at the minute he is focussed on continuing to improve and perform for Ulster.

“I’ll try as Faz said to bring more into my game of what he has talked about and show that on the pitch and in training for the rest of the season with Ulster.

“Obviously we have got a few big games like Toulouse away in the quarter-final.

“Hopefully I’ll get selected for that and put in a good performance.”

Baloucoune was in Kingspan Ravenhill in January to see his old side, Enniskillen Skins, claim the Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup for the first time in their history.

He hasn’t forgot about his roots and he is hoping Skins will give him another chance to watch them at the home of Ulster rugby as they continue their quest for a second consecutive RiverRock Towns’ Cup victory.

“It was great to see the guys playing and everyone involved who would have been involved whenever I was there. It was a great win and I think they are through to the quarter-finals of the Towns’ Cup so I’ll be out watching them in that as well.

“If they can do it two years back to back it would be great,” added Baloucoune.