Having gotten back to winning ways against Leinster last weekend, Ulster prop John Afoa can sense the confidence in the squad as they prepare for Saturday’s Heineken Cup quarter-final against Saracens in Twickenham (6.30pm).
The Kiwi tighthead missed the RDS victory as he was back in New Zealand to witness the birth of his daughter Violet.
His thoughts were never too far away from the rugby pitch however, the former All Black admitted he kept an eye on the Leinster game, praising the efforts of Ricky Lutton and academy prop Kyle McCall who deputised is his absence.
“I caught little bits online before I went back to the hospital, I was getting updates online then from Paddy Wallace,” he said.
“Ricky did really well and Kyle, I’ve seen him in the gym and he’s had big reps but he’s been injured so it was good to see him come on and work hard and do his thing.”
The victory over Leinster is an indication how far the Ravenhill outfit have come since crumbling to a 42-14 defeat to the same opposition in the Heineken Cup final at Twickenham last season.
With Afoa back in contention head coach Mark Anscombe will have close to a full strength squad to choose from for Saturday’s meeting.
Afoa knows the bar is raised in the knockout stages of the Cup but he’s confident this group of players has what it takes to go one better than last year’s runner-up finish.
“We had a good win last week so the boys are feeling confident going to Twickenham again, where we’ve all been before and hopefully we’ll do one better.”
“It’s a big one, ERC is always another level up and it’s knockout footie, there’s no more pool games.
“It’s important that we get a win and improve on what we did last year, you can’t improve if you lose in the quarters so it’s a must-win for us.
“We’re not going there to lose, we’ve a lot of guys back from injury so we’re pretty much at full strength so we’re happy with that.
“Saracens is a good team but we’ve just got to turn up, play well and hopefully we’ll get the result we want.”