Ulster rugby legend David Humphreys has challenged the team to win their next five matches and keep their season alive.
Ulster lost 29-16 to Stade Francais in their Heineken Cup Pool Four game in Paris yesterday, but operations director, Humpheys, insists there is still plenty to play for.
“The next five matches will determine how our season is seen. We could win them all,” he said.
“If we win our two remaining Heineken Cup games we’ll be thereabouts. And we still have our sights on a top four Magners League finish.”
Belfore Ulster complete their Heineken Cup programme against Edinburgh and Bath, they have games against Leinster, on Boxing Day, Munster and the Ospreys In the Magners League.
“Even if we don’t make it in the Heineken Cup we still have an Amlin Cup place to aim for,” Humphreys added. “That’s a much bigger competition now under the new format.”
Defeats by Munster and Glasgow Warriors in their last two outings in the Magners League have seen them slip down to seventh spot in that competition and yesterday’s Heineken Cup reversal, in a game played yesterday after Saturday’s first attempt in Brussels was frozen out, leaves them in third place, four points behind leaders Stade.
Stephen Ferris admits there is plenty of work ahead for the squad.
“We just have to pick ourselves up and get back to work,” said the back-row forward. “That’s what you do, you get on with it.”
Certainly there will be no time spent moping over recent results. The players have today off but after that it will be back to Newforge to prepare for the game against Leinster, the Heineken Cup holders.
“The guys will be back in to work on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They’re off on Friday — Christmas Day — and then we play on Saturday,” said coach Brian McLaughlin.
Humphreys has laid down the challenge, now it’s up to the players.