Andrew Trimble has given Ulster a major boost ahead of the clash with Biarritz after he committed his future to the Ravenhill men until 2013.
Trimble has scored eight tries in 31 international appearances and and amassed 165 points in 111 outings for Ulster and is delighted to have penned a new deal.
Trimble said: “Ulster and Irish rugby are going from strength to strength and my decision to stay was to make sure I was part of that. “As well as the challenges we have in the Heineken Cup and Magners League coming up, I was conscious that I also wanted to concentrate on playing as well as possible here with Ulster so I can challenge for a place with Ireland ahead of the Six Nations and the World Cup this year.”
Trimble believes Saturday's crucial Pool Four clash with Biarritz at Ravenhill will be his biggest game in an Ulster shirt. A win would give Ulster the chance to qualify for the quarter-finals for the first time since lifting the trophy in 1999.
“We're are all sick of talking about 1999 and if we can get a result this weekend we're hoping it can lead to bigger things.
“For me and the other guys this is a big occasion for us and I just can't wait.
“In my time we haven't been in this position with two games left and with a big French team coming to Ravenhill with it still in our hands, the idea of a Heineken Cup quarter final is exciting, I've been here six years and never made it to the last eight.”
Ulster invested heavily last summer in Ruan Pienaar, Johann Muller and Pedrie Wannenburg and with the younger players starting to flourish Trimble feels it's time to make the last eight of Europe.
“There's been money, time and effort put into this team, we have brought in a few big names and they are guys that are going to make the right decisions in the right area of the park,” he added.
“They are clever rugby players and that is maybe something we have lacked in the past but something we have got now.”
“The more players we bring into the squad the more people are going to expect and the more we are going to expect of ourselves.”
Ravenhill was dubbed the Cathedral of Pain during Ulster's run to the 1999 final with both Tolouse and Stade Francais losing in Belfast and Trimble is hoping Biarritz will suffer the same travel sickness they had at Aironi.
“These big French teams coming to Ravenhill and more often than not we give them a hiding and those days are class. It’s great when we get a big team over and get stuck into them and because there is so much riding on Saturday's game it will be a big occasion.”