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Ulster chief Neil Doak won't defuse his Sam missile as Arnold prepares for fight to keep number 13 jersey

By Jonathan Bradley

Having started Ulster's last two games, Sam Arnold is ready for the fight to hold on to the number 13 jersey.

Darren Cave returned from the World Cup to make a short cameo off the bench in the bonus-point win over Cardiff last week, and is back in contention to start against Munster in Limerick on Friday, though Arnold was himself pleased to rebound from a disappointing outing against Edinburgh one week prior.

With Stuart McCloskey having impressed at inside centre, but Jared Payne, Stuart Olding and Luke Marshall all on the sidelines, Arnold could garner substantial minutes during an upcoming run of crucial games that will include Ulster's first European ties of the campaign against Oyonnax of France and Saracens next month.

"Obviously Edinburgh was a big disappointment for the team and I was pretty disappointed with my performance as well," he said.

"That's part of professional rugby, you have to bounce back and it was great to get the win.

"I had my heart in my mouth a bit in the end, trembling on the touchline, but we'll go over a few things that weren't perfect and try to scratch up on those things for the next game."

The visit to Thomond Park is a daunting prospect for a side who have only taken one point on their travels this season but Arnold says there is a determination within the camp to rectify their away day blues.

"Munster were four from four and going down there is always a tough place to go. We know we're really going to have to put in a performance to get a win there.

"Our away form hasn't been great and the boys know that. We're in training this week 110% trying to put that right."

Despite a relatively quiet showing, head coach Neil Doak was quick to praise the English-born 19-year-old's contribution against the Blues and said that Cave will not automatically be restored to the starting line-up this week.

"Sam did pretty well at 13 against Cardiff so Cavey will have a bit of a grapple with him but it's always good to have internationals back.

"I know the two guys (Cave and Paddy Jackson) are champing at the bit to get that white jersey back on in a regular basis."

Doak went on to reiterate Arnold's call for an improvement away from Kingspan Stadium.

"We've got to take this on the road," he said. "The players have got to realise that we need to build on what we have here when we go away. It's going to be a massive game next week, maybe both teams will have a few guys back.

"We know it's not an easy place to go to. We've picked up some bumps and bruises, a few cuts, and we need to prepare well.

"Listen, I tell them every week, the grass is green, the lines are white and the uprights are the same colour. I don't know, I really don't know.

"We talked about some strategies, do we change things up? Certain plays that we're going to use to get us into the game.

"I'm trying a few things to make sure we're in that right frame of mind.

"When you are away from home early doors, you've got to just get points on the board and out teams under pressure that way.

"Last time (against Edinburgh) we gave away two penalties in the first three minutes. It just relieves pressure so easily.

"Our discipline has cost us a little bit away from home.

"We need to be squeaky clean."

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