Assistant coach Steve Williams is hoping that the Ulster players can carry their international form into Sunday’s Magners League game with the Dragons at Rodney Parade.
It’s unlikely that any players from the senior squad will be released, but Ulster had seven players in the Ireland A side that comprehensively defeated Scotland A and they all should be released for the trip to Wales.
“In the past there was only really Rory Best and Andrew Trimble, so to see the numbers come up is very good,” said Williams.
“It’s pleasing for them because that is what it’s all about achieving their ambitions and it’s good to see them do that.
“There is no reason why they won’t be confident, they were playing well before the break, but this is a funny time of the year.
“It’s a matter of getting past the break and getting back to playing bread and butter rugby which is playing for Ulster.”
The international break came at a bad time for Ulster; a win over Harlequins was followed by a creditable performance in Paris against Stade Francais and Williams admits the month’s inactivity has been frustrating.
“It’s strange this competition because there are a lot of gaps in the Magners League,” he said.
“There’s a lot of down time and very little rugby, but that is just the way it is and it’s the same for everybody else.
“It’s just a matter of twiddling our thumbs for a couple of weeks before we start back into the games again.”
Another away game brings up the question of Ulster’s form on the road which has only yielded one win all season — although that came against European Champions Munster — and Williams knows the team have got to put that right.
“We’ve got to win games on the road, it’s always been a problem for Ulster as long as I’ve known them and it is something we have to get past,” said Williams.
“You’ve got to win games home and away if you want to be a good team and you’ve got to win no matter where it is.”
After proving Ulster could go to the best and win with that bonus point victory in Limerick, the following week they didn’t perform in Edinburgh and Williams thinks it was a good learning curve for the team.
“Edinburgh was a lesson and I think the boys took things out of it,” said Williams.
“They know the mistakes they made going into the game and perhaps you’ve just got to go through that process as they came back strong against Harlequins and Stade Francais.
“The boys know themselves that the Edinburgh game was one they let slip for all the wrong reasons and it’s just one of those things you have to go through as part of the development of the team.”
Ulster are a point ahead of the Dragons in the league, but the Welsh side are on a good run of form and Williams is expecting a hard fought game.
“The Dragons are a very good side, they play good rugby and I think they were probably one of those teams, along with ourselves, that were sorry to see the break,” said WIlliams.
“They had a decent Christmas against the other Welsh teams and they had some good performances in Europe which we’ve been watching and they’ve been playing a good style of football,” concluded Williams.