I don’t fight for money. I fight for my legacy. I fight for history. I fight for my people.
Ulster must go into their European opener with real fight and strong self-belief, and they can rely on a little bit of history on their side – because in the past Leicester Tigers have never found Belfast trips easy going.
I played the 2004 Belfast encounter when Ulster destroyed Leicester in 33-0. They came as multiple English Premiership and European Champions but with David Humphreys orchestrating we comprehensively put them to the sword. I remember taking a pass off a lineout strike move from Doaky – now Neil Doak the attack coach at Worcester. I didn’t get past Henry Tuilagi but managed to offload to Andy Ward who crossed the line.
After the game the banter in the dressing room was about the volume and choral cohesion the Ulster fans achieved in suggesting to Leicester where they might stick their chariots. In these big games the fans do make a difference and I’m with Dan McFarland when he called for the supporters to really get behind the team.
Of course, the following week Leicester put 40 plus points past us in what turned out to be the biggest score turnaround in back to back European club rugby. But then after Munster, it’s nice to be reminded that this sport can still produce some of the most amazing turnarounds and comebacks.
Our team talk before the second game was not to kick to Henry Tuilagi, and when Humph put it right down his throat at the kick off we knew it wasn’t going to go well. In the Welford Road tunnel at half time Roger Wilson started kicking Dorian West, he thought it was me and what I might describe as an incident occurred. That result in reality ended our European ambitions that season, Ulster remained stuck in a rut of European wins at home and losses away.
Of the current squad Darren Cave, Craig Gilroy and Chris Henry have enjoyed a 41-7 Belfast win over the Tigers on route to the 2012 Final. We shouldn’t forget Leicester have rarely had it their way in Belfast. Some little bit of history remains on our side.
But on the other side of the balance sheet remains question marks over the scrum and centre pairing. I’ve no doubt Angus Curtis will make a terrific player for Ulster in the years to come but I wouldn’t have minded Darren Cave’s tackling pitted against the other Tuilagi for this one.
In the scrum a huge amount of expectation is already falling on the shoulders of Marty Moore and I think we’ve got be realistic in our expectations of a guy who has been injured and is effectively making his first appearance of the season. We need a few guys to do their jobs and a little bit more.
Last weekend Leicester managed a win against Northampton, but the Tigers fell away in the second half. Ulster have finished strongly this season and it’ going to take a good start and a strong finish against Leicester -to win they’ve got to play with ferocity, sporting ferocity.
When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport, when a tiger wants to murder him, he calls it ferocity
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