Ulster’s Ireland flanker Chris Henry says there is a lot of stress on players to win home games.
Following their disappointing loss to lowly Italian side Zebre at the weekend, Ulster hope to get back to winning ways at home on Friday night, when they welcome Edinburgh to the Kingspan Stadium.
While Henry says that it does put pressure on the team to win at home, it does, nevertheless, bring out the best in a player.
“Yeah! I think there is pressure every time you go on the pitch,” said Henry. “There is stress associated with having to win your home games. They are always a must.
“This week, for example, you can feel though there is something cooking around the squad this week as everyone wants to play at home. They also know that winning at home is crucial. But when you hear that there is 14,000 tickets already sold for Friday night’s game, you know people are coming out in force to support you, and that does put pressure on you. But with that excitement it usually brings the best out in us,” said Henry who believes that last week’s defeat will have a positive effect on the team.
“It will have an effect, but I don’t think it is a crisis. On Monday morning you could see it did affect a lot of people, but in the right way. There was a lot of disappointment and it really made us focus and gave us a hunger to get back on track very quickly,” said Henry, who knows a big four weeks like ahead for the squad.
“We were a little bit rusty in the first two games of the season, but we got a draw against a really strong Scarlets side, a defeat against Zebre, which wasn’t a good performance. But then in the win in Cardiff the previous week there were signs that we were the Ulster we can be.
“There is still a lot of work to do. Last week was a blip, and it was hard to win with 14 men, but every player in the squad knows what a massive four weeks lie ahead. We now need to get some form and there is no better place to do than at home this Friday.
“Yes, last week was a reality check, but also we are in a better place than we were last year. We know we are a good side. You look around the squad of players, we have strength in depth in every position, so I think these four weeks will be a huge challenge for us, but every player is relishing the opportunity to get stuck in it,” said Henry who pinpoints Ulster’s discipline as an area that needs improving.
“Our discipline has not been good. We have already had two yellow cards and a red this season, and we talk about discipline all the time. We just can’t let ourselves down like that.
“Also our set-piece isn’t really firing as it should be.
“Edinburgh will be tough. They have been a bit hit and miss this season, but when they are at their best, they will give any team trouble. They have strong, big wingers, a good back row at the breakdown and a big pack. They also work hard around corners and carry well. We will have to work hard to nullify that threat, particularly up front. We want to be the best pack in the league so it’s all about improving.”
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