Belfast Telegraph

Doak: Ulster must earn stripes against Leicester Tigers

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster coach Neil Doak knows Leicester Tigers will play to their traditional strengths when they visit the Kingspan Stadium tomorrow in search of the bonus point win that would keep their Champions Cup campaign alive.

Leicester's forward power was to the fore in last week's win against the Scarlets, the Welsh region conceding off both the maul and scrum in the six-try defeat, and Doak expects a similar method of attack tomorrow night.

"We know what Leicester are about," said the former Ireland 'A' international.

"Richard (Cockerill) is an ex-player there, and now the head coach, and it's built on that foundation that they work hard for each other.

"You saw last week that they got in for a few maul scores and that's a cornerstone for the success that Leicester have had over the last 15 years.

"We know what they're going to bring and we've got to try and negate that and stop them getting that platform in the game."

With 13 points on the board, the Aviva Premiership side are on the fringes of the fight for quarter-final places and, while Ulster have only pride to play for, Doak is determined that the visitors will not be allowed to dictate the pattern of the game.

"Leicester Tigers are going pretty well, they've got a few of their injured players back so are going to be pretty much full strength, and obviously potentially qualifying with a bonus point win so we've got to put in a performance to negate that and give what will be a full house something to shout about," he said.

"If they need to chase that bonus point, that may give us opportunities defensively to put them under pressure and if we can use the ball wisely and get a few opportunities, the knock on effect is that if they chase it a little bit then we can get in between them.

"It's something that we've been working on all week but we know it's going to be a mammoth game.

"They're a quality side, they're a big European team, but so are Ulster and we want to make sure we finish the campaign on a high," he added.

That goal has been made significantly more difficult by yet more injuries - Stuart Olding, Paddy Jackson and Louis Ludik are all ruled out after picking up knocks in the heavy defeat to Toulon last weekend - although the coach can welcome Iain Henderson back into the fold for a first appearance since playing for Ireland against Argentina last summer.

On the loss of three more senior players, Doak reflected: "It seems to be the case all season for us, it's nothing new.

"We've just got to get on with it and deal with it and it's part and parcel of the game.

"Unfortunately we've been hit more often that not this season but whatever team we put out they'll be determined to win," he said.

"We've a few guys back that we had to rest last week, and unfortunately we picked up a few injuries last weekend.

"So what we thought was going to be a stronger squad is again pretty depleted.

"We lost three backs last week during the game and ended up with two scrum-halves on the wings, but to be fair to the boys they stuck at it and we know it's going to be a different kettle of fish this weekend.

"We're at home, it's the last European game and the boys are determined to put in a performance."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph