Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

We'll go on the offensive, vows Ulster warrior Johann Muller

Captain speaking: Johann Muller addresses Ulster press conference ahead of Saturday's trip to Montpellier

In view of Montpellier's formidable home record you could be forgiven for thinking that Ulster's approach will be an attempt at damage limitation.

You would be wrong; captain Johann Muller has pledged that he and his colleagues are going to Stade Yves du Manoir intent on attacking, borne of the conviction that they can win.

"We're not going to change the way we play," he said. "We don't fear them. We respect them, yes, but we don't fear them.

"We respect them because they are an outstanding rugby team, so they will be extremely tough to beat. But we're going down there looking to play the way we play.

"When we get back on the plane on Saturday after the game, whether it's a win or a loss, one thing is for sure – we will have thrown everything at them.

"I think that is the mindset you have to go down there with."

So Ulster's target is four points rather than one. That's a very positive attitude.

"We're not going down there trying to stay within seven (points) so that we get a bonus point; we're going down there to play the way we want to play. We're not going to change what we do," Muller insisted.

"We have created a huge amount of opportunities over the last six weeks and we haven't finished all of them, so that is something that we have been working on really hard.

"Once again we will try to create opportunities and this time, hopefully, we will be able to finish them. I know I keep repeating this, but rugby is a funny old game. Anything can happen on the day.

"At the end of the day it's a rugby field, it's four lines. So you go out and you give it your best shot. Whichever team takes their opportunities will come out winners, it's as simple as that."

On January 19, 2013 – nine months to the day this Saturday – the big South African lock created history by captaining Ulster to their first ever competitive victory on previously-barren French soil. That was the date on which, finally, they rid themselves of the debilitating tag of never having won a Heineken Cup game in France.

They did so by beating Castres Olympique 9-8 in a real nail-chewer of a match at Stade Pierre Antoine, thereby exorcising the ghost of successive years of failure stretching back to the inception of rugby's European Cup in 1995.

And what makes last season's success all the more praiseworthy is the fact that it was achieved against opponents who, in May, went on to be crowned French rugby's Top 14 champions. What a scalp to have taken.

"It was brilliant to get that monkey off our backs," Muller beamed. "It was important because finally we'd done something that we had not done before and getting a result like that gives you confidence.

"We'd played in France a couple of times since I'd been here, but we never quite managed to win though we came really close against Clermont (2012). We played some really good rugby that day.

"But, like I say, we've got that monkey off our back now – we've won in France, so we know we can do that.

"So we're going to go out there and give it our absolute best. Sometimes that's good enough, sometimes it's not. We'll see on Saturday."

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