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Ulster have no margin for error in title bid: McFarland

Boss relishing fight but admits only victories will do to leapfrog Leinster at top


Dan McFarland

Dan McFarland

Dan McFarland

Ulster head coach Dan McFarland has warned his side have "no room for manoeuvre" in their PRO14 title bid as they return to action against Glasgow in Scotstoun this evening (7.35pm kick-off).

Back after a six-week hiatus produced by the combination of cancelled European games and a scheduled break for the start of the Six Nations, the northern province resume their season sat second in Conference A, four points behind leaders Leinster.

With this season's finalists decided not through a knockout system but by who tops the two conferences, Ulster need to keep pace with the three-time reigning champions ahead of welcoming them to Belfast for a potentially decisive game next month.

Given the imperious form of Leo Cullen's men, McFarland knows his side cannot afford any slip-ups before then.

"If we have ambitions for finishing at the top of our conference, there is no room for manoeuvre," said head coach McFarland, who will be paying a visit to his former employers this evening.

"It's great this year, Leinster are probably enjoying it as well, because the last couple of years the top of the conference has been sealed by whatever stage it is. At least this year there's a competition for it. We're up there and fighting away. That kind of position focuses the mind very quickly.

"That's the beauty of the sport, there's something on the line the whole time.

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"We've got to focus on our development and playing the best that we can be, because the consequences are big if you win or lose. That's what makes it so intense and so interesting."

Jordi Murphy will captain Ulster for the first time in Glasgow with McFarland further boosted by the availability of Stuart McCloskey, Tom O'Toole, Eric O'Sullivan and John Cooney after their various Ireland involvement over the past fortnight.

Academy lock Cormac Izuchukwu will make his senior debut for the side if called upon from the bench while Ulster will get a sneak peak of next season's new signing Leone Nakarawa, who starts for the Warriors.

Belfast Telegraph

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