Belfast Telegraph

Ulster must throw it all at Scarlets to win, says Reidy


Can't wait: Flanker Sean Reidy is up for Ulster's first back-to-back European tie at the Scarlets
Can't wait: Flanker Sean Reidy is up for Ulster's first back-to-back European tie at the Scarlets

By Michael Sadlier

It had been another of those unforgivingly hard-working evenings for Sean Reidy.

The flanker had put in a shoulder-crushing 19 tackles as Ulster had laboured hard to beat Cardiff Blues, and only the oft-lauded Olly Robinson had got the better of Reidy's grafting with one more hit being registered to the visiting back-rower.

But then felling opponents and doing the necessary support work, all over the park, are what the 29-year-old Irish-qualified Kiwi is all about.

But he knows that even more will be required of him, and those around him, on Friday evening when Ulster return to the Scarlets' fortress for the first of their Champions Cup back-to-back meetings.

Reidy, who has been capped twice by Ireland, was there two weeks ago when Ulster came away with a 29-12 beating in the Guinness PRO14. Then he made 20 tackles in what was, as with last Saturday's clash with the Blues, another 80-minute shift for the durable player, whose only non-involvement so far this season was September's tanking at Munster.

It doesn't augur well that Ulster lasted tasted victory in Llanelli in December 2012, in what was then the PRO12.

So something special will have to be produced to not only change the pattern but, more pressingly, give Dan McFarland's squad a hugely valuable away win in Europe after a home result over Leicester Tigers and a spanking at Racing 92.

It would, of course, match the achievement of last season when Ulster triumphed at Harlequins, first-up in the European back-to-back games, in what turned out to be the dying days of Les Kiss's tenure, but Reidy - who played in both winning games against Quins - is only up for the here and now.

"We've just got to be (switched) on," said Reidy of Friday's trip to west Wales.

"If we're not (switched) on, and not playing well, they'll punish us.

"They are a pretty dangerous side, especially on the edges, and they've got some deadly players so we've got to be up for it," the Kiwi added.

Scarlets, last season's beaten Champions Cup semi-finalists, find themselves currently bottom of Pool Four - they narrowly lost at home to leaders Racing 92 in round one before losing again at the Tigers - and will be battling to stay alive on Friday ahead of going to Kingspan Stadium the following week.

Though the pressure Wayne Pivac's side is under to win may work in Ulster's favour - Pivac's successor when he leaves to take over at Wales after the World Cup was yesterday unveiled as Crusaders assistant coach Brad Mooar.

And Reidy does not subscribe to seeing any edge coming the visitor's way.

"It comes down to who can do the little things best," he said.

"We have to negate what they bring. It's going to come down to minor details for the team that comes out on top.

"By the end of this week we'll know each other well and by the last game (next week) we'll know each other even better."

Reidy is now arguably one-third of Ulster's strongest back-row selection, alongside Jordi Murphy and Marcell Coetzee - though Nick Timoney is also a strong candidate for inclusion - and admits that their collective efforts have been going quite well, though there have been breakdown issues.

"I've been playing with Marcell and Jordi, and we've got Nick there, and I think we all complement each other.

"We all work hard for each other and everyone works hard for the team, so that's all you can ask," Reidy pointed out.

The right result at the Scarlets will take all this work and more.

Belfast Telegraph


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