From a wolf mural on the wall to a new “fortress feeling”, Ulster are feeling fairly unbeatable at home these days.
Connacht were the last visiting team to win at Kingspan Stadium, back in October 2018, and they will try to make Munster their 19th straight victim in tonight’s inter-pro derby.
“That record sort of heaps the pressure on a bit more but it is good,” says centre Luke Marshall.
“We are bringing back the fortress feeling to the Kingspan. The pressure now is just keeping that up and keeping the record intact.”
They do say the longer you go without a defeat the closer you are to one, but for now Ulster are keeping the wolf from the door — in more ways than one — with a new mural painted on a wall at Kingspan to remind the players of their new mantra.
“We actually studied a book in pre-season called ‘Call of the Wild’ and the wolf is supposed to be like a husky dog, it is showing that we are a pack hunting together, something similar to the way Saracens have their wolf pack,” explained Marshall.
Marshall gives the credit for it all to head coach Dan McFarland.
Even though Ulster have more ex-Leinster players than ever before, Marshall says McFarland has instilled a culture that everyone wants to buy into.
“Corny as it sounds, playing for the badge, playing for the province, he has really bought into that and pushed us to buy into it,” Marshall explained.
McFarland gets the players to engage with the fans after games and they regularly come out to meet and greet supporters post-match.
Any gap that may have existed between players and fans is no longer there and Marshall says it has helped to see how much their results mean to people.
“In years gone by we maybe took that for granted a bit and that is one thing Dan has emphasised - the importance of our PR stuff.
Not only for the people we are going to visit but for us as a team and the culture it can build.
Ulster will field their strongest attacking line-up of the season, with Jacob Stockdale returning to a dangerous backline.
Skipper Iain Henderson also returns with Nick Timoney also among the three changes from last week’s bonus-point win over Connacht.
Munster have made a whopping 10 changes from the loss to Leinster and look the better for it, with captain Peter O’Mahony back and Joey Carbery making his first start of the season at fly-half.
Ulster have been playing well and results are good – but Marshall believes they can get even better.
“I think we were better in last few games (than against Connacht).
“Even against Leinster the points we scored against them and considering how good a defence they have... last week we scored five tries, but I think if we had been a bit more accurate with ball in hand, we could have scored six or seven.
“We are setting ourselves high standards, but that is where we feel we are able to get too and at the minute we are not quite hitting them.”