By Jim Stokes
Ulster head coach Dan McFarland was not shirking away from the record tanking suffered at the hands of a rampant Munster outfit last Saturday.
But he was eventually glad to park that calamity and look ahead to tomorrow’s Guinness PRO14 date with Connacht in Belfast.
Once McFarland had got over all the negativity surrounding the Thomond Park 64-7 rout which smashed Ulster’s unbeaten run, he was quick to say “we can park the Munster situation and move on”.
“I just felt that we got knocked over,” said McFarland. “We’re still on the beach, waiting for that first wave, knowing that we’re going to have to try and withstand that.
“As it came rolling in, we looked over our shoulder and all of a sudden it had hit us, and we were on our ass, and then we never got to stand back up again because another wave, and then another wave came.
Asked if Ulster can match the physicality Connacht now have in their armoury, McFarland was in no doubt, despite being blown out of the water in Limerick.
“Yeah. We will. They (Connacht) lost last weekend at home, they will be smarting from that. I thought they actually played quite well. Leinster are a good team, and Connacht have put in some excellent performances this year.
“They have some classy players who can do damage. We obviously all know what Bundee Aki can do and Kieran Marmion. These are dangerous players, but they have a couple of wingers there that are real threats and maybe not been so much in the game as they have been in the past. But we have to very aware of that.”
McFarland is well aware that Connacht have not won a competitive game at Ravenhill since November, 1960 when they came out on top 6-3.
“Certainly, on the back of last week, what we will be looking for as a group is to make sure, defensively, we can do the kind of job that Leinster did on Connacht. Connacht attack is good. Andy Friend and Nigel Carolan, who is a good friend of mine, have a great attacking system going there and we will have to be on top of our form to deal with that,” said McFarland, who won’t have to say a lot to his players this week.
“They do not rely on me to get them up for the game. If they did we are going to run out of steam very quickly. It is about getting as many people into the boat who are going to be intrinsically motivated to play hard for Ulster. You do not last long in professional sport if you are not intrinsically motivated.
“If they rely on the coach every week to build them up we are going nowhere. They need to have the confidence that they have prepared well, and go into a game knowing they are going to play well.”