Belfast Telegraph

Ulster are a top side but my only focus is on what our boys can do, says Van Graan


Johann van Graan
Johann van Graan

By Cian Tracey

There are plenty of things Johann van Graan has to learn in his first job as a head coach and over the next week, he will have to come to terms with the tricky parameters around having one of the top gigs in Ireland.

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So far, the South African has shown an insatiable desire to learn and although he got his first wake-up call against Leinster earlier this week, the overall signs have been positive.

Plenty of changes will be made for the New Year's Day trip to Belfast as Conor Murray and other front-liners are given the week off.

Leinster showed their strength in depth by coming away from Thomond Park with a bonus point and against an Ulster team who will be without the likes of Jacob Stockdale and Iain Henderson, Munster will be expected to bounce back.

"If you make a lot of changes it does affect momentum and Connacht and Ulster have those extra three days now so they will be waiting for us in Belfast," said Van Graan. "But it is something we knew beforehand winning or losing (against Leinster) shouldn't influence that."

Ulster have been almost impossible to figure out this season. Just as they looked to have a turned a corner after two big wins in Europe, they were brought crashing back down to earth by a rampant Connacht.

Yet Van Graan warned: "I don't think you can go too much on their last performance. I thought to win away at Quins and put in a very good home performance at home against Quins, they are very well set in Europe and well set in the PRO14.

"So they are a quality side and I can't control what Ulster do, we've just got to reset ourselves and we're going to go with quite a few changes, refine our plan and back the depth of our squad to put in a good performance.

"I always take it personally, I hate to lose. But yeah, you have got to be consistent in your thinking. This is a team game, we weren't good enough against Leinster and then go back to zero, win or lose, and start again.

"That's the brilliant thing about rugby and the brilliant thing about sport, you will lose and you will win."

Belfast Telegraph


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