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What Ulster need to do to beat Racing 92 powerhouse - Neil Best

To me job titles don’t matter. Everyone is in sales. It’s the only way we stay in business

There’s been a bit of social media chat this week about Ulster players being “asked” to hard sell Saturday’s Belfast showdown with Racing 92. To be honest I don’t see any harm in players clearly connecting ticket sales with the Club’s income streams and on to players’ wallets. It keeps feet on the ground and serves as a reminder that if you want to continue to live well -you deliver on the pitch.

And let’s be honest, Ulster should go into this game with self-belief. The team have put in some good performances at home this season, we’ve always done well in Belfast against the French and our chances of European knockout qualification remains in our hands.

The only ask I have of Ulster is they start fast and start hard. Don’t give away easy penalties or scores and restrict Racing’s ability to keep things ticking along. I have no doubt that Ulster will get chances and will score tries. But it’s about the loss as much as the profit and they must restrict Racing, get ahead and stay ahead.
Racing’s players know Belfast isn’t their last stand in Europe this season, they face out of contention Scarlets at home in their final Pool game -and they’ll know Ulster away is one they can lose. Don’t underestimate how much that plays into the home team’s hands.

Continue reading below…
In other news: Premiership Rugby say they intend to ‘formally’ investigate the leaking of minutes.

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I know there are questions over Michael Lowry and his HIA. But even if he’s fit, I’d start with always dependable Louis Ludik at fullback and Robert Baloucoune on the wing. In the second row I’d pair Kieran Treadwell with Alan O’Connor, Ian Nagle unlucky to miss out. For me the rest of the team picks itself with Reidy just ahead of Timoney in the only other possible close call. A big physical effort will be required up front, and the players coming off the bench will be just as important.

We need a solid performance from Billy Burns alongside more of the same “big performances” from Stuart McCloskey and Will Addison. And we need John Cooney to spark it all -and play with the characteristic leadership and confidence that have made him a huge fans’ favourite. There is no better or bigger stage than this weekend for John Cooney.

And what about the captain? We don’t know what the year-end holds for Rory Best. Yes, in the autumn he’ll lead Ireland in a World Cup campaign that will present as the greatest chance to date of an Irish victory. But Rory’s an Ulsterman. He’ll want to bring his career to an end tasting success with Ulster too. And he’ll know that if this Ulster team can safely navigate Saturday – with zero expectation, quite literally anything could happen. He’ll give absolutely one hundred percent and his subtle ability to influence and shape the refereeing always makes a difference.

Fine margins often determine big games, even if the margin becomes quickly forgotten in victory. So I’ll put in my pitch for ticket sales too – if you only go to one Ulster match in 2019, go to this one, your support might tip the balance.

One should see the world and see himself as scale with an equal balance of good and evil. When he does one good deed the scale is tipped to the good – he and the world is saved. When he does one evil deed the scale is tipped to the bad – he and the world is destroyed.

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What Ulster need to do to beat Racing 92 powerhouse - Neil Best