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Nick Williams homing in on one final flourish with Ulster

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 20/04/2016

Dressed to impress: Chris Henry, Nick Williams and Stuart Olding with Ulster fans Ryan Cowden (10) and Amy McGuckin (18) at Remus Uomo Meet the Players event at Victoria Square
Dressed to impress: Chris Henry, Nick Williams and Stuart Olding with Ulster fans Ryan Cowden (10) and Amy McGuckin (18) at Remus Uomo Meet the Players event at Victoria Square

Ulster's Nick Williams is desperate for one more run out in front of his home fans when the province meets Leinster in a must-win interpro next weekend.

Almost certainly the final home game of the season for Les Kiss's men, Williams has been struggling with a shoulder injury since the loss to Glasgow at the end of last month.

Bound for Cardiff Blues come the summer, the number 8, who is a favourite both with teammates and on the terraces, is determined to overcome the injury and soak up the Kingspan Stadium atmosphere for a final time as an Ulster player.

"Ravenhill and now Kingspan has always been a special place for me," said the native New Zealander last night at an event hosted by Remus Uomo, Ulster Rugby's official clothing partner.

"The last game there when the boys played against Connacht was the type you really want to be involved in.

"I've said time and time again this place is my home, almost more than New Zealand.

"It will be tough but it's all about positivity at the moment. It's part and parcel of the game.

"I'll miss the boys and I'll be involved as much with the lads as I can be. I haven't thought about across the ditch yet.

"I just want to play my part as much as possible. I've played some of my best rugby here in Northern Ireland and that's because of the boys around me."

Asked for an assessment of his chances of being involved for the visit of Leo Cullen's table-toppers, the former Munsterman, who joined Ulster from Aironi in 2012, added: "You'd have to ask the medical staff at the moment because it's been slow enough.

"It's almost a day by day sort of process.

"It's part and parcel of the game unfortunately, especially the way I play. It's getting there and hopefully I'll be good to suit up next weekend.

"Look, we're trying to do absolutely everything to get me back on the paddock and it'll be a blessing if I do.

"Even if I don't, I'll be there behind the boys and giving them all my support."

Having hauled their way back into the play-off spots with victory at Zebra, the former junior All Black admits the pressure is mounting week on week with only two games remaining.

With a visit to Ospreys' Liberty Stadium slated for the campaign's concluding weekend, Ulster need nine points to be mathematically assured of a semi-final spot.

"The fact that it's in our own hands probably adds a bit more pressure but we're under no illusions, we have to win," said the 32-year-old.

"A win, and if there's a bonus point there it's great, but we know we need to win. We can't afford to lose another game.

"We back ourselves when we're at home no matter who the opposition are. Leinster, in all honesty, have had the upper hand in the last few years.

"Looking at the game on Saturday week, though, I'm sure people are probably sitting on the fence with who is going to come out on top.

"We know we need it."

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