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Criticism a motivating factor for Scarlets: Marshall

By Michael Sadlier

The question was thrown Luke Marshall's way and he didn't disappoint with his answer regarding criticism of elements of Ulster's losing effort at Leinster last Saturday.

"Obviously that was a bad loss last week and quite a few people have questioned our heart," the strong-running centre said, with Stephen Ferris's stinging remarks made during half-time at the RDS being the most high profile.

"There is no point lying down and saying 'that is fine'," reflected Marshall on a game which he sat out.

"We have to take it on the chin and use it as a motivating factor because we really have to win on Friday and win in Europe because we have no other choice at this stage."

And the 26-year-old Ireland international went further and explained how such viewpoints being voiced have impacted on the squad.

"It's about professional pride and human nature as well," he explained.

"In any walk of life, if people question your pride and effort, you have to be angered and (sufficiently) motivated by it that you are going to prove them wrong."

He showed further candour in trying to explain why it is that Ulster's season has been plagued by inconsistent performances.

"One of the things this season is that we have struggled to have consistency in our team with injuries and the international break," he stated.

"And if you are not getting the same team out every week, and especially if the backline is not staying the same where most of the opportunities are created, it can have a knock-on effect and there can be more errors.

"We have maybe made more mistakes but, at the same time, there is individual responsibility and probably as a team and individuals we haven't been as good as we should have been.

"I suppose we have been talked up quite a bit and, at the start of the season, maybe some of us believed too much that we were going to be the best and sometimes you need a reality check.

"We haven't delivered as well as we should have done and hopefully we can rectify that and turn it round."

That starts tomorrow evening at the Scarlets, where the home side have managed to remain unbeaten in their last eight games in front of their own supporters while Ulster have, rather worryingly, failed to win there for more than four years in a run stretching back to December 2012.

But Marshall sounds determined to do something about this as the squad travel with himself and Rory Best, Iain Henderson and Paddy Jackson all back in contention.

"To have two losses in a row in the league going into Europe would be pretty tough," he stated with regards to coming out the wrong end of tomorrow evening.

"We're still in with a chance of qualifying in Europe, so a win on Friday and two wins in Europe and the season is still looking all right."

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