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There's no excuses for us any more, it's time to show what we've learned, insists Ulster flanker Rea

 

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Matty Rea does not want another hard luck tale

Matty Rea does not want another hard luck tale

Matty Rea does not want another hard luck tale

Tomorrow's Guinness PRO14 semi-final with Edinburgh represents a milestone in Matty Rea's career - his first knock-out game for the province - and yet even he is already tired of hearing about his side's faltering history on the big stage. 

When it comes to the sharp end of competitions, that being the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup and last four in the league, the northern province have lost their last seven, as well as 11 of 14 over the course of the past decade.

Rea was not involved in the most recent crunch-time reverse - last May's 50-20 thumping at the hands of Glasgow - but knows that it would seem disingenuous to depict any similar result tomorrow as a further opportunity for learning.

"We have been talking about it every year since I've been here where we have been in these situations and we talk about learning from it," said Rea.

"We have done what we have had to do in terms of learning and I don't think we can really use that as an excuse any more. Our actions on the field have to back that up.

"Regardless of what went in the past, it is a knock-out game, and these are the games that we have talked about as a group, how we want to go about these situations. It is a massive opportunity for us as a group to take that step forward.

"It's an opportunity for us as a group not just to talk about how we could have done better and what we could have done, but to go out and show it.

"We want to be one of those teams that is competing for championships every year and this is the first opportunity that has come this season, so we have to be on the money."

Ahead of what is their biggest game in some 16 months, Ulster travel to Murrayfield as an unknown quantity to those on the outside.

Having earned their spot in tomorrow's game ostensibly off the back of work that now feels like last season, their re-emergence post-lockdown has been rusty to say the least.

After losing back-to-back PRO14 games for the first time since the festive derbies of Christmas 2018 - now, as then, to Connacht and Leinster - the preparations have been far from ideal over the last couple of weeks.

"It is weird that it is the business end of the season already," admitted Rea. "But at the start of the season, these are the situations you want to be in. This is what we have been looking forward to and been building for probably since we were beaten by Glasgow last year.

"This is a massive game for us, a massive opportunity regardless of the circumstances, and it comes down to whoever puts their best foot forward on the pitch.

"It's very exciting. These are the games that everybody wants to be involved it, you want to go out on the big stage and put yourself out there."

Belfast Telegraph