Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Diack delighted to get back in old routine

Robbie Diack is returning to a more familiar role
Robbie Diack is returning to a more familiar role

Even though he has every reason to feel that a considerable weight has been lifted off his shoulders, Robbie Diack knows that the net effect has actually just ramped up the pressure on him.

With fellow South African Johann Muller returning to the fold along with Dan Tuohy, the 27-year-old can now gladly step aside from the responsibility of calling Ulster's lineouts and the prospect of filling in again in the second row.

True, but with Diack likely to start at his preferred position of number eight, in the absence of the injured Roger Wilson and Nick Williams, he knows that there can be no allowances made for added burdens if the back rower fails to hit his straps for Mark Anscombe.

"It's not something I'm pretty disappointed about," says a smiling Diack, accepting that his time as a lineout organiser looks to be at an end as leaders Ulster prepare for their return to PRO12 action against fourth-placed Ospreys tomorrow night at a sold out Ravenhill (kick-off 7.05pm).

"It's really good that we've got Johann back as he is world class at calling lineouts and I think it's good that I can now focus solely on my game and get back into carrying and getting in some good hits," the Irish qualified player adds.

Just to illustrate the point, he looks back at the warm afterglow of Ulster's last game, when they just about got the better of Castres for that historic first competitive win in France, and finds that he can still take issue with certain aspects of the performance.

"I was calling the lineouts and they didn't go too well in the first half and though the wind didn't help we had a few missed balls and miscommunications," he says.

"I suppose I was a bit worried about that," is how Diack recalls it before accepting the significance of the Castres result.

Indeed, he had shifted over from blindside flanker to number eight after Wilson's early departure to injury, which only added to the workload as he then had to liaise closely with Ruan Pienaar at Ulster's set-pieces.

Still, there was a fringe benefit to all this as he did get more of the ball in his hands.

"It was good to get a few carries but it wasn't the best game of rugby," he says.

"But to get a win was something that made us really happy."

Now in his fourth season at Ravenhill and due to make his 91st appearance tomorrow night, Diack has been getting a good run in the side, though with Stephen Ferris soon to return and Chris Henry away for the Six Nations, he knows that retaining his long-term place in the back row will be quite a struggle.

"It's been about being given opportunities and taking them," he states.

"With Mark, if you're not playing well then you have to be prepared to go and sort your game out but in saying that if you are playing well he keeps you in the team."

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