Belfast Telegraph

Win match and forget about favours: Herring

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster may need a helping hand this Saturday, but there will be no scoreboard watching from the players according to Rob Herring.

Neil Doak's side travel to Glasgow most likely requiring a win, coupled with either a Munster loss to Dragons or an Ospreys defeat inat Connacht, if they are to host their Pro12 semi-final next weekend.

Herring, however, says that the players will be fully focussed on events at Scotstoun, not what is occurring in Cork and Galway.

"Hopefully either Dragons or Connacht do us a bit of a favour, but we've just got to go there and get the win first and foremost," said the naturalised Irish international.

"We'll see what happens after that."

Whether we believe the likelihood of a fellow top-four team losing to a lesser light or not has no bearing on how Ulster will approach their game. Such final day drama is a recent rarity for the Pro12.

"I don't think I've ever been in this situation actually," mused Herring.

"I don't think it's been this tight in a while so it's pretty exciting.

"Obviously we'd have liked to have our destiny in our own hands, but it's not so we've just got to go and do what we can do."

Ulster make the trip knowing that their opponent's home form is exemplary - only Toulouse have won at Scotstoun this season and Glasgow haven't lost there in the Pro12 since November of 2013 - and Herring knows that beating Gregor Townsend's side on their own patch presents quite the challenge.

"It's going to be tough," conceded the man who turned 25 last month.

"Their home record speaks for itself and they're a really good team.

"There's a reason why they've been at the top of the table as long as they have, but we can't go there fearing anyone.

"We've got a job to do. If we front up and the forwards can dominate we know we have the backs to put them away."

Those same forwards will be looking for an improvement on last weekend's showing in the draw against Munster after the scrum was bested and lineout ball stolen on three occasions.

Herring, who didn't come off the bench in the interpro but will start on Saturday after Neil Doak chose to rest Rory Best, acknowledges that the forward unit were unhappy with aspects of their play.

"It was one of those games when the set-piece just wasn't as good as it has been," he said.

"Munster had done their homework on our lineout and were able to pinch a few balls at crucial times.

"Our scrum, we looked at this weekend, and it just wasn't good enough for our standards.

"It's something we've worked on a lot this week and hopefully it will be back to normal on Saturday."

Herring should get an extended run in the contest, which has been something of a recent oddity.

The Cape Town native saw 11 minutes of action against Leinster three weeks ago, but it is his only game time since first-choice hooker and captain Best returned from Six Nations duty.

"It's been massively frustrating for me on a personal level, especially with the interpros," he admitted.

"You want to put your hand up in front of the Ireland coaches, but it didn't happen the way I wanted it to.

"I've just got to go out and play to my best and then hopefully earn some more minutes in the semi-final and final."

While naturally still harbouring ambitions of a late run for World Cup consideration - Herring's sole cap came on last summer's tour to Argentina - the tournament next season will present an opportunity for the former London Irish academy player either way given that Best's involvement is a certainty.

Having signed a one-year extension last July that sees his contract run until the summer of 2016, Herring expects the next 12months of his career to be pivotal.

"I'm really looking forward to being here next season," he said.

"If you're involved in the World Cup or not, I think the way the season's running, we're going 15 games straight or something.

"It'll be tough, but everyone is in the same boat and it'll be interesting for everyone in the squad.

"Hopefully by then we'll have lifted a trophy."

Pro12 League: Scotstoun, Today, 3pm



Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph