Ireland and Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey feels that he has proven the doubters around his place in the Ireland team wrong.
McCloskey, a Bangor native, has been in and out of Ireland squads since making his debut in 2016. However, an impressive showing in Ireland's Autumn series in 2022 and the 2023 Six Nations campaign, where he started six Ireland games in a row, put him firmly in Andy Farrell's plans for the World Cup in France.
McCloskey only managed to get 57 minutes at the tournament due to the excellent form of other Ireland centres like Bundee Aki.
Nevertheless, the 31-year-old feels that he has shown up his detractors, even though it took a long time to do so.
"I feel like I've proved a lot of people wrong in the last 18 months or so, achieved some stuff I had set out to do, and maybe it took me a few more years than I thought it would, but I finally got there," he said.
"I think, in general, I've always been a fairly confident player, but it's nice to have that accomplishment behind you."
Moving forward, the Ulster star's priorities for now are the game against Edinburgh this Saturday and the rest of the United Rugby Championship season.
Ulster's last triumph in the competition was in 2005/06 when it was formally named the "Celtic League." McCloskey knows all too well that the drought has to end and the near misses have to become provincial success stories, and that has to happen sooner rather than later.
"I think everybody who's been at Ulster long enough knows that's an issue. We should be winning things, and we've had a couple of good opportunities over the last couple of years but just haven't converted them," he added.
"Again, we're trying to get to a place where we can win something this year, be it getting through the group in Europe or getting into the quarters of the URC.
"And from there, hopefully, we've learned enough over the last four or five years – or in my case 10 years – to hopefully push on and win something."
Ulster plays Edinburgh at 17:15 later this evening.