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Ulster haven't discussed growing Conference gap to Leinster, insists coach Roddy Grant



Roddy Grant

Roddy Grant

Roddy Grant

With their Guinness PRO14 destiny no longer in their own hands, Ulster's forwards coach Roddy Grant says nobody within the province is under any illusions regarding the size of the task that awaits this weekend.

Having beaten Ospreys at Kingspan Stadium on Friday night but not matched the bonus-point collected by Leinster later in the weekend, Ulster have fallen six points behind their neighbours in Conference A with only the team at the top of the standings advancing to the final at the end of this month.

The visit of Leinster to Belfast on Saturday night gives Ulster a chance to narrow the gap but, with only two games remaining after this weekend, Dan McFarland's men require help from elsewhere too.

"The gap that's there, that's reality," said Grant. "Even if we win this, we've to win the next two.

"It's not something we've spoken about overly because it's apparent. Clearly if we don't win it's not good for us.

"Whether it's Leinster or whoever, our minds have to be on winning every game.

"We have to win every game, nobody is under any illusions. It's a big one to win this weekend and if we can do that, we can close the gap. We need to give it our best crack."

With both sides having lost only one game in the league all season, Leinster are in search of a fourth consecutive title with Grant all too aware of the opposition's strengths.

"Leinster, in pretty much all facets of the game, are the benchmark to see where you stand against the best team in the league," he said.

"It's a big challenge. (They're) well-coached, really well drilled and have such good players. 

"They're really physical and they've got a good maul and maul defence.

"Technically and strategically, we have to be sound. Physically, we have to get it right but they're not just size, they're so technically proficient. It's a really big challenge."

Both Tom O'Toole and Stuart McCloskey have been released from Ireland duty to feature in the game with Ed Byrne, Ross Byrne, Rhys Ruddock and Josh van der Flier similarly being made available to Leinster.

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Ulster will be without Sam Carter, however, with the Wallaby lock ruled out after a concussion sustained in training, while Marcell Coetzee remains a doubt having missed out against Ospreys with a thigh contusion sustained against Glasgow in the side's previous game.

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