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Doak has drastic plans to improve Ulster's discipline

By Michael Sadlier

Published 29/05/2015

Downbeat: Neil Doak
Downbeat: Neil Doak

There is no hiding from the downbeat mood as Neil Doak tries to bring some definition and closure to the season just ended.

What occurred last Friday in Scotstoun is still gnawing at him as is the fact that Ulster will have nothing to do with tomorrow's PRO12 final being hosted at their own stadium.

"Yes, it's just disappointing that we couldn't have finished off with a final here and a potential trophy," he admits after another campaign gone without providing any ultimate reward.

"It's been a pretty frustrating time," Doak says of Ulster's failure to make the breakthrough.

"Little things have just contrived against us over the last number of years," adds the man who stepped up after last summer's high profile departures of David Humphreys and Mark Anscombe and has held the fort ahead of Les Kiss's arrival to take charge following this autumn's the World Cup.

"But from my point of view I think the season has been decent considering the (early season) turmoil and the injury profile we picked up.

"But we've got to control certain aspects of our game," the man whose main area of expertise is in attack plays added, before looking ahead.

"I suppose that is the pressure of high-level rugby, sometimes skills-sets break down and decision-making processes get a little bit muddled.

"You would have thought that the players available to us had that experience, but you can see that nerves and pressures get to everyone," Doak added, while also mentioning the fine margins in big games as well as key calls by officials going against them as was the case last Friday.

Doak also cites discipline as being particularly costly during the campaign and that this is a key issue he will be addressing.

"I think it has been a downfall for us and I just felt that at times we've been silly.

"That's (got to be) a big change for us next season. I have a few things in mind which may be drastic but ultimately it (ill-discipline) has cost us a few games and it's cost us a place in the final."

Even though Europe looks a challenge too far against the might of the French and English clubs, Doak is adamant that Ulster can still launch a charge alongside the essential requirement of making the PRO12 play-offs.

"We've got to make sure we don't drop off mentally (between Europe and the PRO12 ) because ultimately the mindset of players is key.

"Rugby, and sport in general, has a great habit of biting you if you don't respect it.

"We've got to make sure that Ulster Rugby are successful and we've got to deliver."

Much work to be done then.

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