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Nick Williams urges Ulster to banish their travel sickness ahead of Munster clash

By Jonathan Bradley

Nick Williams believes a first inter-pro of the season against Munster at Thomond Park this weekend can be the perfect tonic for Ulster's away-day blues.

Neil Doak's side maintained their perfect record at the Kingspan Stadium this season with a four-try 24-17 win over Cardiff on Friday night - they have now taken 15 points from an available 15 at home this year and equalled their record of 14 consecutive wins in Belfast - but have lost twice already on the road.

Having suffered defeats at the hands of Scarlets and Edinburgh, Williams is looking forward to more of an atmosphere in Limerick this Friday.

"It's a tasty one, isn't it?" said powerful No.8 Williams, who is in the last year of his contract.

"We always look forward to getting out and playing the boys down south so we'll pack this game away on Monday and then get back on board.

"We know that it's always going to be tough playing away.

"The success that we've had at home, it's just been a bit harder to get that going in away games. It's all about getting the balance right and also how we prepare for it mentally.

"We've been around the game long enough that wherever you go, whether the stadium is full or half empty, you need to make sure there's an atmosphere within the squad.

"With the Scarlets and Edinburgh, we spoke about making our own atmosphere. We knew it was going to be quiet compared to the Kingspan.

"It's a mental battle that we haven't seemed to be getting right at the moment."

After wreaking havoc against the Ospreys, and one of few to come away from Edinburgh having made a positive impact, Williams earned man of the match honours with his try-scoring display against the Blues but was keen to emphasise the role of the collective in his recent impressive form.

"It's good to get the personal accolades but when it comes down to it, it's a team sport," continued Williams.

"We play as a team, we win as a team and we lose as a team, it's just a bonus that we get these shiny medals.

"We made it quite tough for ourselves in the end there but a bonus-point win at home, we'll take that any day.

"We'll look at the back end of the game and see what we can improve."

With Tommy Bowe set to undergo knee surgery today, Jared Payne out for two months with a broken foot and the severity of a knock picked up by Iain Henderson yet to be determined, Ulster's Ireland contingent have certainly returned home battered and bruised from the World Cup but Williams was pleased to see the duo of Darren Cave and Paddy Jackson back in the fold on Friday evening.

"They're probably the only two lads that aren't injured right now," added Williams.

"It's just refreshing to get some new faces back. We've slogged it out with the same lads for a long time while the boys have been away.

"To get them back, and to get their brains back, it's just awesome.

"It's good to get leaders of their calibre back."

Nick Williams spoke last week on behalf of Specsavers, official sponsors of the Guinness PRO12's officials.

Belfast Telegraph


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