Andy Farrell will have enjoyed what he saw in Ulster's Interpro win against Leinster on Saturday.

Less than two weeks ago, the Ireland head coach laid down the challenge to his fringe squad members who missed out on game time during the Autumn Nations Series.

"Selection should be difficult and the conversations I have had with all of them, selection is in their own hands, don't let it be a 50-50 (call).

"Go back now to your provinces and let's see what you are made of," Farrell said ahead of the game with Argentina.

He never mentioned any names, but it's likely James Hume was one of those players who Farrell had tough conversations with in November.

If Farrell's plan was to put fire under those fringe players, it's already working.

Hume and his centre partner McCloskey were dominant against the defending champions. Nick Timoney would also have been in that bracket before a series of injuries and Covid-19 positives led to a last-minute inclusion against Los Pumas, and once again he impressed against Leinster, leeching everything he could get his hands on at the breakdown.

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Hume, whose last minute intercept try put the wrapping paper on Ulster's win on Saturday night, was the Player of the Match even before he picked off Tommy O'Brien's pass, and credits a tough international camp with his determined performance.

"It's been probably the toughest three weeks I've had to deal with mentally," he said after their victory at the RDS.

"I haven't really had a challenge like that mentally yet. I was really happy to be in camp and I was trying to draw as much experience from everyone and learning from the likes of Ringer (Ringrose) and Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki, trying to get how they perform at their best all the time.

"To have no involvement over the three weeks at all is tough because you're down at Carton House, you're down at the HPC, you're down at The Shelbourne and you're seeing how good a high performance environment it is and how well the guys were performing.

"It was mentally tough not to be involved, but I've made a few goals written down on my notepad of what I want out of the next block of nine games, and I just kept looking at that over this week and before I went out and at half-time, reminding myself what I want out of this block of nine games going into the Six Nations."

Hume was one of many Ulster players who outplayed their Leinster counterpart, with the squad having stewed on their defeat to Connacht since the end of October.

They were also desperate to break their poor record against Leo Cullen's side. Their Rainbow Cup loss against Leinster at the RDS last season was their 14th in a row against the Blues in Dublin.

It wasn't a major part of their preparation, in large parts because it didn't need to be said.

"I think we know that. We didn't actually mention that during the week but lads know that.

"All I've known is coming down here and losing, that's the only experience I've had.

"Alan (O'Connor) mentioned before the game at captain's (run) yesterday, we don't want to come down here and be sitting after the game in the changing room again saying we weren't nasty enough, weren't clinical enough. That was a big focus point during the game and I think we kept on top of that."