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Ulster's unusual tactic to ensure kickers are prepared for Clermont's cauldron

By Josh Raisey
John Cooney lines up a shot at goal for Ulster (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Ahead of their crunch Heineken Champions Cup showdown against Clermont this Saturday, Ulster’s kickers have been preparing for the noisy experience they will encounter Stade Michelin. 

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The French stadium is one of European rugby’s most iconic and rapturous environments and has proven to be a difficult hunting ground for visiting sides – their 77-match winning run at home last decade is an indication of that. 

The crowd can be cacophonous at times, so both John Cooney and Bill Johnston have been preparing to combat the partisan supporters. 

Both players have been practising kicking with their headphones playing the sound of the Clermont crowd in order to give a taste of what they can expect this Saturday. 

Scrum-half Cooney shared the video on Instagram of both players practising at the Kingspan Stadium. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B7D2K1UhB7Q/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

While this may not quite come close to what the atmosphere will be like, it is positive that Ulster are taking some measures to ensure they are not caught out by the intimidating environment. 

Both teams enter this game as the runaway leaders of Pool 3, although the Irish side sit one point ahead of their rivals on 17 points. 

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While there is still a very good chance that both sides will progress to the knockout stages, they will be aware that topping the pool gives them a better seeding in the quarter-finals and a likely home berth. It is for that reason that neither side will be taking this match lightly. 

Cooney is enjoying a standout season for Ulster, particularly in the Champions Cup where he has the second-most points and is joint-second on the try-scoring list. 

However, he will need to be at his best on Saturday to overcome a formidable Clermont side at their veritable fortress to take control of the pool. 

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