Wallace: Three years ago Ulster were no-hopers
It seemed like an appropriate moment to reflect on the past and the long-serving Paddy Wallace was in a prime position to put things into context.
“If you told me three years ago that we’d be in a Heineken Cup final I would have laughed at you,” he said — and no-one can really argue the point.
“I think Nigel Brady and myself have been here the longest and (we’ve been) through some hard times,” the 32-year-old added, before moving on to look towards matters more immediate.
“We won but we didn’t play well and that’s probably a good sign going into a final — obviously we’d like to play better and take the chances that we create and not make it so tight again.
“I don’t think we’ve shown our true potential yet. We’ve shown a doggedness to get through these last two games.
“I think in the first half we defended a lot and we played a bit more in the second half, but I think we’re certainly not playing at 100%, that’s the feeling after the game.”
Even so, Wallace is confident that Ulster are showing the right amount of steel to give them a fighting chance of coming out top in Europe at next month’s final.
“All the good sides that have won in Europe over the years have shown that when you’re not getting possession you’re not conceding points either.”
He also had praise for Paddy Jackson — 13 years his junior —after the out-half came through with a strong display against the Scots.
“He stepped up to the mark, he was clear and concise, didn’t seem overawed by the occasion at all.
“That’s the kind of the mentality that he’s shown all year. He’s very laid back and it’s a credit to him and he’s now mature enough to play at this level,” Wallace added.
The Ireland international also chose to laud the structure at Ulster and the way the current side has been boosted with world class overseas signings.
“I think it’s great credit to Ulster in setting their sights very high.
“There was a change in CEO, David Humphreys’ role was brought in and he was put in charge of recruitment and he’s done a fantastic job in bringing in world class players that fit into the Ulster mentality.
“They’ve (the players) rubbed off hugely on us and they’ve brought a belief that we can go to this level,” added Wallace.