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Ian Humphreys will step back up to the plate

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Ian Humphreys

Ian Humphreys

Darren Kidd

Ian Humphreys

He doesn’t try to hide from the issue, or step around it with evasive and nebulous sound-bites; instead Ian Humphreys prefers to confront his inquisitors with some plain-speaking.

Ulster’s out-half is naturally unhappy at the way things have panned out but is adamant that the side can, and will, turn the corner regarding their recent string of defeats.

“No team wants to lose the number of games we have,” Humphreys said.

“At the end of the day we put a lot of pride into how we play and when we put on an Ulster shirt we really want to do well.

“We were pretty embarrassed with our performance against Treviso. In the last two games in particular there have been small issues which the opposition have capitalised on.

“It’s something that we just can’t afford to do again and I’m sure that we won’t.”

For Humphreys, outwardly at least, the mantra is that the squad is in good physical and mental shape and that it is clearly not a quantum leap to go from having lost four straight games to securing an all-important win.

“This week has been good and it’s been good to have a few fresh faces back in along with some enthusiasm (brought back) from the World Cup,” he said.

“I think going forward it’s a really positive place to be.

“The confidence has been there, the good mood’s there and the morale is there. Everyone is confident and just looking forward to playing again.”

He also knows he needs to deliver a big game and there will be the added pressure of his likely head-to-head with former Ulster squad member Niall O’Connor who is in his first season with Connacht after being released from Ravenhill.

“He knows our team inside out so he’s going to make it difficult for us and in some ways he’ll be recognising some of our set-ups and some of our plays,” said Humphreys. “He’ll be coming up here to prove a point (and show) that he probably maybe should still be here.”

But that’s the opposition out-half and Humphreys prefers to focus on what Ulster intend to do tomorrow evening.

“We’re looking forward to getting back in front of our home crowd and play the way we know we can and hopefully put on a decent performance,” he added.

Now it’s time to deliver.

Belfast Telegraph