Belfast Telegraph

I have been doing my homework on Ulster, says Bath lock Ewels

 

Raring to go: Charlie Ewels is excited about European action
Raring to go: Charlie Ewels is excited about European action

By Richard Mulligan

Charlie Ewels has never faced Ulster in a competitive match before, but he is hoping he can help his Bath side break the hoodoo the visitors have held over the English Premiership team in Europe.

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The sides meet at The Recreation Ground tomorrow afternoon for the fifth time in Europe, Ulster having won their four previous encounters home and away.

The 24-year-old second row, who scored in Bath's impressive 22-13 win over Northampton Saints in last weekend's Gallagher Premiership match - the first time Saints have lost this season - is hoping his side can set down a marker as they bid to make the knockout stages for the first time since 2015.

"I am excited, the club is excited about Europe coming around again," said lock Ewels.

"It is the one you want to be in. We battled to finish sixth last season so we could be in this competition and be in this place and compete against the best in Europe.

"If you want to be ambitious as a club then you want to be pushing forwards and you want to be playing and testing yourself against the best in Europe, and that is what this competition gives you the chance to do."

At the launch in Cardiff, Ewels admitted he did not know that much about Ulster - apart from that well talked about Burns brother connection - but he said once the Premiership game against Saints was out of the way, he would know quite a bit about the side.

"It is a big start, Ulster reached the quarter-finals last season and we will have to be at our best, just as we will have to be for every game in the Champions Cup.

"I am looking forward to coming up against a few boys we may have played in the Premiership in the past.

"A home game to start the Champions Cup gives us the opportunity to do well. You want to win all the games, but you need to make sure at home."

The fact that brothers Freddie and Billy Burns are set to face each other does add extra spice to the fixture, and Ewels welcomed it, although insists it would not distract from the job at hand.

"It is being labelled 'The Burns Cup'," smiled Ewels, capped 12 times at international level.

"I played with Billy in the Under-20s as well.

"It will be good to see him as well and I am sure social media will be on fire ahead of the game, especially between those two.

"It will not take any focus away from the fixture though, but stuff like that is brilliant. It just adds to the game.

"They are both professionals and will prepare as always to do well for their club inside the system to help win the game. We will have a bit of fun off the pitch no doubt."

Bath, like Ulster, have won the Heineken Cup but, just like their opponents, it is in the distant past, the English side winning it in 1997-98, the year before Ulster.

"I think we have a squad that can make an impression this time," said Ewels.

"We have been a bit inconsistent in the Premiership, but we have a young group and we are building.

"We have six guys coming back from the World Cup, four of which were involved in the final. They will bring experience and energy to the side and hopefully push us on in the right direction.

"I am hugely excited and it is now all about how we target each game and where we can take it."

With familiar faces Harlequins in Pool Three along with Clermont Auvergne, Ewels admitted one of his bucket list wishes was to play at Stade Marcel-Michelin, in spite of the daunting impact is can have on visiting teams and fans.

"What a brilliant place to go and play rugby," beamed Ewels. "It was a bucket list thing for me to go to play at Stade Michelin and I cannot wait for it. It is going to be brilliant. It is exciting."

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