Pedrie Wannenburg is aiming for a dream end to his Ulster career after his try-scoring performance helped secure a 22-19 victory over Edinburgh and a place in the Heineken Cup final.
With Ulster unlikely to qualify for the Rabodirect PRO12 play-offs, Wannenburg’s last match for the province before he moves to France is set to be at Twickenham on May 19.
And the influential Springbok number eight is desperate to add European honours to the three Super Rugby titles and five Currie Cups he won with the Bulls in South Africa.
“I am chasing one of my dreams, this is one of my dreams, to win a Heineken Cup final,” Wannenburg said.
“I was fortunate to win a couple of Currie Cups and a couple of Super 14s and this is for sure up there in my career.
“I am really looking forward to the final. It’s an amazing feeling for us.
“Guys have waited 13 years for this opportunity and we are the lucky ones who are going to the final.”
It was 13 years ago that Ulster were crowned European champions for the first and only time, when they defeated Colomiers in the final at the old Lansdowne Road.
Paddy Wallace is in his 11th season with the province and he is one of those to whom Wannenburg was referring.
“This is my greatest moment in an Ulster shirt,” Wallace said.
“I have got a Heineken Cup final to look forward to now. It doesn’t get much better than that.
“We have always had a lot of belief. We are aware of what we are capable of. Finally, we are starting to show that on the pitch.”
Ulster weathered a first-half storm from Edinburgh – they survived the sin-binning of Stefan Terblanche unscathed – before turning the screw after the interval.
The Ulster scrum was dominant and that laid the platform for Wannenburg’s try and for man of the match Ruan Pienaar to pull the strings in masterful fashion.
The victory was more comprehensive than the final score suggests as Pienaar kicked 17 points as Ulster extinguished Edinburgh’s spirited effort.
By the time Jim Thompson came off the bench to score a consolation try in the final minute, the 40,000 supporters who had flooded from Belfast to Dublin were already celebrating victory and planning a trip to London.
“You have to got to fight for every inch in a semi-final,” Wallace said.
“Edinburgh threw a lot at us. Fortunately we fought it out and showed a lot of spirit.”
Wannenburg is convinced that Ulster can show more than just fight and spirit in the final, now the pressure of reaching that second final is off their shoulders.
“The semi-final is probably the worst game you can ever play,” Wannenburg said.
“The pressure was on us to make a final. They were underdogs coming into it. We knew it would be a tough game.
“In a final, any team can win. We are there now. We can go and play. We will be much better than we were today.”
Whatever happens at Twickenham, Wannenburg believes he will leave Ulster at the dawn of a bright future.
The Northampton number eight Roger Wilson and Ireland wing Tommy Bowe are both returning to Ravenhill next season.
“A lot has happened (since I joined),” Wannenburg said.
“The players have started to believe in themselves that we can achieve something.
“Ulster are there for a couple more years ahead. Ulster are in a good place at the moment.”