Edinburgh loss a wake-up call, insists Ulster's Craig Gilroy
Ulster's Craig Gilroy bemoaned that the team "just didn't turn up" in Friday's pre-season defeat to Edinburgh.
Both Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe crossed the whitewash for the visitors but it brought nothing more than a 23-10 reverse and Gilroy is demanding much more ahead of the Pro12 opener against Ospreys this weekend.
"It was very disappointing, especially after we worked so hard this week in training," he lamented. "We wanted to put on a good show with the league starting next week, but we just didn't turn up.
"We started well but our body height wasn't good enough going into contact, we didn't keep possession well enough and we didn't take our chances when they came along, particularly in the first 40 minutes.
"I think that has cost us. To be fair, there were times when we played quite well and a few individuals stood out, so there are a few positives to take from the game as well."
With Ulster coaches having already stated a target of six wins from six to start the season, Gilroy knows that there can be no early season rust when Ospreys come to Kingspan.
"Like us, they were semi finalists last season so to have them first up in the league will be a huge challenge. It would be great to get a win and get some points on the board early in the season, especially over such a strong team like that."
Ahead of that contest, the fitness of Ian Humphreys will surely be of concern to Neil Doak.
The fly-half pulled out of the side to face Edinburgh at the last minute with a hamstring strain, originally suffered in training but aggravated during the warm-up, and his absence, with Paddy Jackson expected to be on Ireland duty, would leave Sam Windsor as the only recognised number 10 in the squad.
Meanwhile, Charles Piutau, the Kiwi back who will join Ulster next season, has been left out of Steve Hansen's New Zealand squad for the World Cup.
Piutau is far from the only big name casualty - Israel Dagg, Corey Jane and Lima Sopoaga will also not be on the plane to the United Kingdom - but he is perhaps the most unfortunate.
While his impending move has not gone down well with the NZRU, the 23-year-old was man-of-the-match in last month's Rugby Championship Test against South Africa while also scoring a try against Argentina a week prior. Ultimately however, the electrifying form of Nehe Milner-Skudder and a quicker than expected recovery from Waisake Naholo ended his hopes.