'Highly motivated' Ulster can beat Leinster

2 months ago 28
Ulster coach Dan McFarland with Leinster counterpart Leo CullenUlster coach Dan McFarland with Leinster counterpart Leo Cullen
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 1 April Kick-off: 17:30 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Sounds, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Foyle and the BBC Sport website

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland says that his side will approach their Heineken Champions Cup last-16 tie against Leinster in a positive fashion.

Ulster go into the match against their interprovincial rivals in Dublin as underdogs but McFarland says his squad will just try to play to their optimum.

"People say it's unlikely Ulster are going to win but that's not how we approach it," said McFarland.

"The onus is on us to produce the best the best performance we possibly can."

He added: "We must make every moment of the game a contest against them and if we consistently do that the chips will fall the way they fall.

"It's out of our control how they play. We can only influence the game by the way we play and that's what we'll be totally focused on."

The 'X-factor' Ulster hooker who is a 'try-scoring machine'Stewart hat-trick inspires bonus-point win over Bulls

Four-time European champions Leinster are aiming to win the premier piece of club silverware on the continent for the first time since 2018 and Leo Cullen's side have won both meetings against Ulster in the United Rugby Championship this season.

The northern province have never beaten their Irish rivals in European competition, although they did come close at the quarter-final stage four years ago, losing narrowly 21-19.

"In the last two years we've beaten them twice and we played some good stuff in the other games in patches but we simply weren't good enough to beat them this year," added McFarland.

"We know we have the ability to win games against Leinster but we're also fully aware that if we're not playing to the peak of our ability then it's going to be tough, but we're highly motivated."

Hooker dilemma

The Ulster coach faces a number of difficult selection calls for the crunch encounter at the Aviva Stadium, not least at hooker where Ireland international Rob Herring faces a strong challenge for a starting berth from prolific number two Tom Stewart.

Stewart's hat-trick of tries in Friday's 33-23 URC win over the Bulls took his tally for the season to 14 and the 22-year-old has also been involved on the fringes of the Ireland squad.

"Tom had two years where he played barely any rugby but he was able to take that opportunity to develop physically," explained McFarland.

"He's always had a very good mindset and once his body was in good shape he demonstrated his talent.

"It's 'head down' with Tom - he gets on with the job and forced his way into involvement with the Ireland squad.

"We have two hookers in and around that Irish squad and Rob is fresh off scoring a try in a Grand Slam-winning game so it's very competitive at hooker for Ireland. We've got two good fellas."

The winners will face Leicester Tigers or Edinburgh in the quarter-finals if the competition the following week.

Read Entire Article