Ulster loosehead Andy Warwick expects a typical battle royal at Thomond Park on Saturday when the Guinness PRO14 wraps up its league programme before the play-off stage begins the following week.
Following Munster’s disappointing Champions Cup exit last week in Bordeaux, Warwick is expecting a backlash from the Conference B side, particularly on their home turf, as Ulster chase that third-place finish in Conference A, something that looked unlikely four weeks ago.
“It’s always been close down there whenever I’ve played,” said Warwick, who will be making his 94th appearance for Ulster who need to come away with a bonus-point from Limerick, while hoping Edinburgh lose to Glasgow without earning a point.
“Look, they’ll be looking to bounce back after Sunday, and they’ll not want to go out and lose so we’re preparing for their full team anyway.
“We’ve only won one game that I’ve played in Limerick. We sent down a weakened team a few years ago and we managed to turn them over. I played tighthead that day. I was up against Dave Kilcoyne and it was a big test as I’m not a natural tighthead.
“I’ve had a few games against Stephen Archer and John Ryan, and they’re international props and not to be messed with. But I’ll be up for it,” said Warwick, known as the ‘Big Licence’ after qualifying to drive a 40-ton HGV lorry in a former life.
He showed he had a big engine three weeks ago when, unusually for a prop, he played the full 80 minutes in that crucial bonus-point win over Edinburgh at Murrayfield.
“Eighty minutes is a tough ask for a prop these days, but yeah it was good.
“I was bit sore (next day), but it was good. I didn’t know, you just have to keep working until you’re brought off, or if you stay on, you just have to keep going.”
Asked what has turned around Ulster’s fortunes since a dreadful performance in Cardiff last month, Warwick said players had taken an honest look at themselves and their performances:
“Rory (Best) sat us down and we had a real hard look at ourselves, and there were a few home truths.”
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