Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

League crucial to Euro glory, says Doak

Ulster backs coach Neil Doak cannot be accused of racing too far ahead of himself in terms of his hopes for 2012/13.

But he does expect to see Ulster compete on two fronts.

To that end, making a decent start to the RaboDirect PRO12 is crucial. Last year Ulster lost 10 of their 22 matches in the series and that put paid to any chance of a play-off place.

“We’ve sat down and looked at the first phase of games and things we’re looking to happen and achieve in those,” Doak says.

“It’s easy to say ‘We want to win a European Cup’, but that is so far down the line. We just need to get a good start to the league, build on that and get as many points as we can from our games,” he reasons.

“If we do well in the RaboDirect, obviously that confidence will move with us into the Heineken games. We’ve a difficult European group and some tough games.

“And obviously, with our success in reaching the final last year, expectations are raised and teams will be looking to put more pressure on us.

“We’ll be putting the pressure on ourselves as well, which is good in a way.

“We need to try and make sure the players are confident and comfortable with what we are trying to achieve, so that whenever they take to the pitch, they are in a good mindset, can perform better and produce more wins.”

But Ulster aren’t doing anything radical at this stage.

“At the moment it’s just the generic stuff, like learning the calls and trying to get the systems of attack right in place,” Doak explains.

“Once we get a few games then we can analyse things and tighten them up and then look at more strategic options.

“Obviously we know the teams don’t change that much and we’ve played them a few times over the years, so there are certain things we look to take into games.

“But with the new season and some new coaches, they could change their style and it’s about trying to get information from matches and using bits and pieces from those to put a plan in place.”

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