Belfast Telegraph

Ulster's Dan Tuohy hunting for Tigers

By Michael Sadlier

"I couldn't imagine myself without it. Surely there will be some resolution especially after this weekend when people see how much it means to the clubs."

Ulster's Dan Tuohy isn't the first player to voice an opinion on what the future may hold for Europe's premier club competition.

And though it isn't exactly a distraction ahead of tonight's opening Pool Five clash with Premiership champions Leicester Tigers, it is something exercising the thoughts of all concerned whether they be the potential breakaway English and French clubs or those not pushing hard to terminate the current structure.

Tuohy continued: "I've read a little bit about it and I can understand why it (the current structure of the Heineken Cup) isn't fair, but it has to be sorted out in some fashion, whether it breaks off into a new franchise or continues in its existing one."

And on another tack, the 28-year-old second row may also be featuring rather more in the mind of Tigers' skipper and out half Toby Flood after August's pre-season friendly when a collision between both players ended up with Flood being carted off to hospital in a head brace and Tuohy then being shown a yellow card.

The incident received plenty of media attention and murmurings of further action being sought by the Tigers, but Tuohy isn't outwardly concerned ahead of tonight's game and will doubtless be hoping that playmaker Flood might actually be that bit wary of his rampaging presence.

"There was a lot of stuff written about it but that was more around the issue of referees and concussion," is Tuohy's take on another subject which detracts from the usual outpouring of sound-bites ahead of a Heineken Cup weekend.

"It was just one of those incidents where it looked worse than it was ever intended to be and from my end there is no reason to worry about it," he added.

Tuohy played the last time the Tigers came to town on a night they were sent packing 41-7 early last year, which is pleasant to reminisce over but has little relevance for tonight.

"Yes, the game ran away from them and Trimby (Andrew Trimble) scored a couple of cracking tries," he said while smiling at the memory.

"We'll not read too much into it and we'll just take this game on merit," he added before addressing the key need for his fellow forwards to take the game to their ultra-physical opponents.

"They are very powerful up front and that is what they base their game on. They also have very physical backs and even though Manu Tuilagi is not there, Vereniki Goneva is some specimen," he said.

"They play a bit more attacking rugby than traditional Leicester sides used to but it's still based on their front five and that gives them their go forward," said Tuohy who expects a huge contest for dominance up front with only one outcome being acceptable to the home side.

"We are going to have to get the win," says Tuohy.

"It's a must win. If you lose the first one, to then have to go and beat a French side away, which admittedly we did for the first time last year, would still leave you a mountain to climb," he said, referring to the final pool game victory at Castres.

And with the November internationals coming up, the seven times capped Tuohy knows this is also a shop window to impress Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

"When we were down in camp recently the coaches spoke about the games leading up to the Heineken Cup.

"The squad is picked after the second Heineken Cup game and as it is close to international rugby it is as close a benchmark as the coaches have," he said.

"It's important for myself and a few other guys on the fringes to hammer it home and get in that squad."

Taming the Tigers, though, comes first.

Belfast Telegraph


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