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Herring hoping to turn up the heat for Ulster

By Michael Sadlier

wHILE most of the Ulster squad ended up having to endure the unforeseen, and thoroughly unwelcome, cold showers that were all that was available at Ravenhill after last Friday night's horrendous weather, Rob Herring managed to go one better than his rather chilled team-mates.

Indeed, the post-Ospreys shiver-fest was actually the hooker's second cold rinse of the day and, yes, his first was just as unscheduled as his flat-mate, a certain Sean Doyle, had managed to put an end to the hot water in the house.

"Some of the boys that were subbed earlier just hogged the hot water like Jared (Payne) and Sean," Herring says, thankfully being able to laugh about it now that the memory is a week distant.

"So we got off, sang the song and then the showers were cold.

"And I had to have a cold shower before the game as well as my house-mate Sean had managed to turn off the hot water as well," Herring says with a shudder at recalling it all.

Ah yes, last Friday. The rain pelted down at Ravenhill and the wind did its worst while two teams tried to play a bit of rugby.

The 23-year-old Cape Town native could do little but endure it and just get on with the game which saw Ulster just about manage to see off the Ospreys.

"It was pretty tough and it is definitely the worst weather I've had at Ravenhill since I've been here," Herring admits.

"But the boys were saying it doesn't get much worse so I suppose that's a positive at least."

"It was tough at the lineouts, and we lost two, so in terms of the conditions we still managed to get some good quality ball," adds Herring while also lavishing praise on others with skipper Johann Muller and John Afoa featuring.

"I'm just trying to tick my own boxes first and get my set phases right and offer a bit more than what I have been in the loose," says Herring.

"Johann and John sort of take control of the lineout and the scrum and I'm just trying to do the best I can with the game-time I'm getting."

"It was a disappointing game," he says of the Ospreys clash.

"But we got the result in the end and that is the most important part," Herring stated as Ulster head into tonight's home game with the Scarlets.

The Irish-qualified player should be getting another run of games while Rory Best is otherwise engaged with the Six Nations and is relishing his opportunity.

"Rory is a great leader especially at scrum time he knows exactly what he wants and he is really good to get the boys to do it how he wants it.

"Rory leads by example and I want to try and emulate him as much as I can.

"He's (Best) Ireland's most capped hooker so he has got to be doing something right," Herring says with a smile.

And Herring also seems to be progressing quite nicely, with his first involvement for Ireland Wolfhounds last month for the side's win over England Saxons.

"I was really chuffed to be playing for the Wolfhounds and it was one of the goals I set out to achieve at the start of the season.

"I really enjoyed the whole Ireland camp and hopefully I can get a bit more over the years."

So, all is good. He could, though, do without any more cold showers.

The main threats

THE guests' back row pair Josh Turnbull and captain Rob McCusker at six and eight respectively are vastly experienced war horses who will have been delighted to see Scottish international John Barclay joining Scarlets last summer. Between them those three gentlemen are more than capable of completely spoiling Ulster possession or else slowing it down to such an extent as to be very difficult to use.

If they succeed in making Ulster so frustrated that they forget their discipline, in outside-half Aled Thomas Scarlets have a goal-kicker who may well make them pay for that. And they can score tries. In fact, with 22 to their credit, Scarlets' total is only one one shy of Ulster's 23.

Last weekend at Treviso they managed half-a-dozen with Gareth Davies, Kirky Myhill, Kristian Phillips, Jordan Williams and Frazier Climo, who got two, the scorers. All five play tonight.

Above all, Ulster must avoid being sucked into a situation where they end up playing the game on Scarlets' terms. With the home crowd behind them, Mark Anscombe's men should have enough know-how.

A bit of previous

ULSTER'S last six matches:

Ulster 10 Ospreys 7

Leicester 19 Ulster 22*

Ulster 27 Montpellier 16*

Ulster 29 Munster 19

Leinster 19 Ulster 6

Ulster 13 Zebre 6

* Heineken Cup (all others RaboDirect PRO12)

SCARLETS' last six results:

Treviso 33 Scarlets 41

London Irish 29 Scarlets 10**

Scarlets 13 Gloucester 7**

Scarlets 20 Harlequins 22*

Rac Metro 13 Scarlets 19*

Ospreys 17 Scarlets 12

*Heineken Cup, **LV Cup (all others RaboDirect PRO12)

FIXTURES

Tonight: Ulster v Scarlets (7.05pm), Leinster v NG Dragons (7.45pm)

Tomorrow: Connacht v Edinburgh (5pm), Cardiff Blues v Glasgow Warriors (6.30pm), Munster v Zebre (6.45pm)

Sunday: Ospreys v Treviso (4pm)

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