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Stuart McCloskey feels he still has a point to prove from a defeat to England nearly five years ago. 

The Ulster centre is set to make a rare start for Ireland this weekend when Georgia visit Dublin in the Autumn Nations Cup.

McCloskey has been overtaken in the international ranks by the likes of Bundee Aki and Chris Farrell since his maiden start at Twickenham in 2016.

Despite some solid form for Ulster in the intervening years, McCloskey admits he's been frustrated as he awaited another chance.

"I've been pretty impatient, probably, for the last five-odd years," he told Wednesday's media briefing.

"It will be good to get a run-out, hopefully this week. Last week I actually had a toothache earlier in the week so I was sort of ruled out with that. I had to get a root-canal in one of my teeth, so that was unfortunate.

"I've been impatient for a while, and hopefully if I do get an opportunity I can take it, and move forward with it and grasp it with both hands.

"I need to have a good game if I do play, and hopefully put a bit of pressure on the guys there."

McCloskey's consistency with his province would be the envy of most players, but he knows he's operating in a particularly crowded field at the moment.

"It's been tough," the 28-year old said, "There's been times where I thought I'd been playing excellent[ly].

"I've been there or thereabouts for the whole time, but there's a lot of good competition there.

"You think of all the guys that are here like Bundee [Aki], Chris [Farrell], Robbie [Henshaw], Ringers [Garry Ringrose] out injured.

"And then you've got the younger guys coming through now. You've got the two guys at Ulster, you've got Ciaran Frawley at Leinster, and you've got Scans [Rory Scannell] at Munster.

"There's a lot of talent there, it's probably the most talent of any positions in Ireland. So you have to be at the best.

"I just want to get a decent opportunity at putting my foot forward, and if it doesn't work out it doesn't work out. At least I can go off knowing I've given it my best shot, but I know I haven't given it my best shot so far.

"I just want to go out there and really deliver."

I wish I'd made my mark

Since those 63 minutes at Twickenham in 2016, McCloskey's only been capped twice more - against the United States and Fiji.

He still looks back on his debut outing with a major sense of regret, "It seems like a long time ago now, looking back on it but the England game...what's that? Nearly five years ago now.

"I remember playing it and thinking I played alright, and I just didn't get another go.

"And then the two games I had I played alright - I was playing Fiji and the USA - unless you're tearing it up against them you're not getting another opportunity.

"I'd just like to hopefully play well, and then get another get another game on the back of it and really try and put my mark down.

"I think that's something I've been lucky with at Ulster over the years where I play game after game, and it's allowed me to get in a bit of form and really get a feel for the team.

"Looking back on it, I just wish maybe I put more of a mark on my first game against England. Maybe I tried to fit in too much."

Schmidt v Farrell

McCloskey says a route back to the international fold was never made clear under previous head coach Joe Schmidt.

With Andy Farrell and co now in charge, the Bangor man says the lines of communication have been much more open.

"Under Joe, I don't think there was a great deal. There was bits and pieces, I didn't really get a lot," McCloskey said.

"With the coaching team that's in at the minute, yeah I thought they've got a quite a lot that they've told me to work on, and I've went away... it's the usual things really.

"I think every player knows what their deficiencies are anyway. You're always working on it.

"I'm always trying to work on my kicking game, always trying to work on my passing. It's just in terms of trying to use it in games... the way Ulster play and the way Ireland play is probably a bit different, and it uses my skillset differently.

"But in terms of communication with coaches and what they want, yeah they've given me a lot to work on and I've tried to do that over the last maybe 18-months they've been in."

BRIAN O’DRISCOLL & KEITH WOOD | England in control, Ireland misfire, the post-Schmidt postscript

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Andy Farrell Autumn Nations Cup Bundee Aki Chris Farrell Georgia Ireland Rory Scannell Stuart Mccloskey Ulster

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