Magners League: Refreshed Ulster can slay Dragons
Skipper Johann Muller believes the week Ulster had off after the Aironi game has refreshed minds and bodies as the season is set to reach an exciting climax both in the Magners League and the Heineken Cup.
Ulster face the Dragons at Ravenhill tonight (7.05 kick off) with a win putting them into the play-off places in the Magners League with five games left.
“Everyone is excited and it is wonderful to see what a week's break can do to a group of players,” said Muller.
“The training has been outstanding this week, everyone is upbeat and looking forward to a great game of rugby.
“This is the start of a really important six weeks for us, we need to build some momentum and we need to keep that Magners dream alive. We want to get into the top four and if we can get a positive result against the Dragons we'll be right up there.
“Every game is almost like a semi-final or final for us now. If we want to get into the Magners League play-offs we're going to have to win every week now, so if we take our eye off the ball tonight we're going to regret it a couple of weeks down the line.
“It's important we play some good rugby to get the confidence up for the next six weeks lying ahead.”
On-form Ulster go into the game having taken nine points from their last two outings at Ravenhill, while the Dragons have
suffered heavy defeats against Munster and Gloucester in their last couple of fixtures. But they do have a good record against Ulster and Muller will make sure there is no complacency.
“It's going to be tough because we haven't beaten them in the last five or six outings and they are a bit of a bogey team to us, but it is a different and a new squad of players.
“I said at the start of the season we're not going to be great immediately and it would take time for us to bond, and the more we play together the easier it becomes.
“With the pack being settled now it's great that we get to know each other so well.”
Coach Brian McLaughlin has sprung a surprise by handing Dungannon winger Conor Gaston his debut. Gaston replaces Andrew Trimble, with his club colleague Craig Gilroy, who has bagged seven Magners League tries, on the other wing.
Paddy Jackson replaces injured out half Ian Humphreys with Ruan Pienaar reverting back to his preferred role of scrum half.
Robbie Diack gets a start at No 8 with his fellow South African Pedrie Wannenburg dropping to the bench.