Belfast Telegraph

European Champions Cup Oyonnax v Ulster: It's back to basics for Ulster in French prep reveals Neil Doak

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster head coach Neil Doak has revealed his side have gone "back to basics" in their attempt to secure a Champions Cup quarter-final place.

A fine run of form came to an abrupt end last week with defeat to Munster but, as they prepare for a run of three consecutive European games that begins with a trip to Oyonnax on Sunday (1pm kick-off), Doak says confidence among the squad has not been dented.

"That loss brought us back to earth with a little bit of a bang but it happened because of mistakes we made, chances we didn't take.

"It was a match we could have, and should have, won.

"We've gone back to basics... we need to remind ourselves of what we do well and what we have to work on, and there's still a real confidence in the group."

Doak admits that a trio of European contests just a month out from the Six Nations presents a unique challenge.

"With the intensity of Europe, an extra game in the cup like this does raise a few issues, but I have absolutely no doubt we have the players to deal with those," he said.

"It does mean we have to think about using our resources carefully and properly, that we manage players well and keep some fresh for what is still a very long campaign of rugby to come."

The team, announced today, is expected to see both starting half-backs Ruan Pienaar and Paddy Jackson rested with experienced reserve duo Ian Humphreys and Paul Marshall taking their places.

Tight-head prop Wiehahn Herbst has lost his fitness battle after suffering a leg injury with Ricky Lutton set to start and Bronson Ross coming into the panel as cover.

Belfast Telegraph


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