Flanker Kieron Dawson is ready to lead Ulster by example at Thomond Park tomorrow night as they look to do the double over Munster in the Magners League.
Coach Matt Williams has handed the skipper’s armband to the 21 times capped Irish back row in Rory Best’s absence and Dawson is hoping it will be another memorable occasion as Ulster look to close the gap on the table toppers.
“There is no better place to walk out than Thomond Park, I’ve said to the players a few times the senior players in the squad have got to lead the rest of them.
“When you’re a school boy or an under-20 player you go down totally believing you’re going to beat Munster and looking forward to getting stuck into the red jerseys,” stated Dawson.
“That is exactly the same mentality we should have now as a senior squad because we have come so far. We have absolutely no reason to be intimidated by them or the crowd.
“At the end of the day we are Ulster and we are going down to do a job against Ulster and we have got to believe in ourselves,” continued the former London Irish forward.”
Tomorrow night represents Ulster’s first visit to the new
Thomond Park and the game is a 26,00 sell out, it’s been 16 years since Ulster last won in Limerick but Dawson believes that once the first whistle goes history won’t count for anything.
“There is nothing better than sticking two fingers up or silencing the crowd, I’ve played at Thomond a few times but a lot of the time the crowd was on our side as I was playing for an Irish representative side so I don’t feel any baggage from the past.
“I’m just looking forward to playing in a great stadium against a great side surrounded by your mates running yourself into the ground and sitting in the changing rooms being able to look eye other in the eye afterwards,” claimed Dawson.
The old rugby cliché is forwards win games the backs determine by how many and that sums up Munster. It was their pack that paved the way for Heineken Cup success last season and if Ulster don’t front up early on it could be a long night at the office.
“Munster are European giants, they are big and strong but if you can stand up to a team like that and get parity up front hopefully they will start to look at themselves especially after last weekend’s lost to Connacht,” said Dawson.
It’s rare that Munster lose two games on the bounce and they will have been wounded by the events in Galway and Dawson believes they will come out all guns blazing roared on by the home crowd. “We’re expecting a backlash but if we can be with them 20 to 25 minutes into the game by knocking them down, putting them on the back foot hopefully there will be little bits of doubt creeping into their mind but they are a fantastic side,” concluded Dawson.