Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Dan Tuohy driving Ulster Rugby forward

Ulster Rugby Training, Pirrie Park, Methodist College, Belfast
Ulster Rugby Training, Pirrie Park, Methodist College, Belfast

It was Dan Tuohy's 59th minute try that secured Ulster's bonus point in their 48-0 Heineken Cup rout of Benetton Treviso on Saturday night at Ravenhill.

"I got two against Cardiff as well, but trust me, I'll be back on a drought soon!" he smiled. "I'll enjoy it while I can because I know it could be another 15-20 games before I get another one."

Tuohy, who makes his 100th Ulster appearance in tomorrow's return match in Italy (1.35pm), is another of those who spent much of November in the Ireland camp at Carton House, but played no part in any of the Guinness Series Tests against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.

"Of course, I still want to put my hand up and play for Ireland," said Tuohy who has seven caps. "That will never, ever die. If I have to pick up scraps of caps through the years, so be it.

"I have spoken to Joe Schmidt and he has been excellent. We were very honest with each other and it was a good way of dealing with things. He told me what I needed to do, and I know where I'm at and we are on the same page with that.

"He knows I was disappointed at not being involved in the November Tests, but he wants me to be disappointed. If you're a coach and your players are not disappointed about not playing then you have a problem.

"He told me 'Go and play for Ulster and we'll be looking at you. That's all I needed to hear."

Since returning to the Ulster fold he has looked like a man keen to make a point.

"I'm just enjoying playing here. I'm comfortable here. The coaches know how to get the best of out me," he said.

"I think a few of us came back up from camp dragging our feet and the coach just put an arm around us and said, 'Just do what you normally do for us'. That lifts you. Credit to Cowboy (Mark Anscombe) and Doakie (Neil Doak) – they managed me well.

"I'm not a coach, but from a player's point of view some of the best coaches don't have to do a heap; they know how to manage you and how to manage your personality.

"This is Mark's second year so he knows us better now. He knows me, so he's getting the best out of me. It took Brian (McLaughlin, Anscombe's predecessor) a couple of years to get it, but he got the best out of me, too.

"Everyone is different. Some guys need a kick up the backside, others need to be consoled, some guys just need a little confidence boost. I don't know which group I fall into; normally I just get on with it.

"I think after November I was maybe just a little fed up and I wanted to prove a point. They (Ulster's coaching staff) just said, 'Right, just enjoy yourself. Let yourself go and express yourself on the pitch."

Just how much enjoyment there will be at Stadio Monigo on Saturday afternoon remains to be seen.

Certainly Tuohy is of the opinion that Treviso will come out with all guns blazing given what was done to them at Ravenhill.

"We started well and that is key; it sets the tone for the game," Tuohy said. "That's what we need to do this time, too. Whether it's three, six, nine, or a couple of tries, we need to get scores early.

"We don't want it to be an arm wrestle and going in at half-time in a three-point game with us choking up because we're away from home and they're getting momentum.

"A couple of early scores to settle us down and just let us play our rugby – that's what we want because we know that when we up the tempo and play like we can that we're hard to live with."

Skipper Johann Muller returned to action last weekend after five weeks in dry dock with a calf injury. Lewis Stevenson and Iain Henderson are still sidelined. In the circumstances there has been additional responsibility placed on 6ft 5ins Tuohy's broad shoulders.

"Not a problem, not a problem at all," he said confidently. "I've got a great bunch of guys around me to help me through that so the responsibility really doesn't faze me too much to be honest.

"We're a cracking side, we just enjoy winning games. At the minute we're winning them well so it's just good to be part of that.

"The coach has coached us to play good rugby – free rein to go and express ourselves. Treviso allowed us to do it and we cashed in. I can't see them making the same mistake again; I think we'll see a very different attitude from them this time.

"They'd a few guys missing – (Manao) Vosawai, Brendan Williams – and if they come back in that will help them, so it makes for a potentially really good round four.

"The difference this year in comparison to past years is that we're in control of our situation.

"In the past we'd be worrying about what other people were doing; this time we know that if we keep winning, we win the group.

"Now, as long as we look after ourselves, it doesn't matter what anybody else does. We have 13 points and Leinster are the only other side with 13 at this stage.

"I'd take 17 at the end of Saturday's match. I'd settle for a win – 3-0 would do me."

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