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Ulster must retain focus to stride on in Europe, says Ludik

 

By Jonathan Bradley

Plenty will play out between now and the time Ulster face Wasps in Coventry on Sunday (3.15pm kick-off), but Louis Ludik for one won't be paying the other games much heed.

The province's fine win against La Rochelle has Les Kiss' men leading the pack in their Champions Cup pool with only one hurdle left to clear, and they already know that a victory will have them back in the European quarter-finals for the first time since 2014, while a bonus-point triumph would ensure a last-eight tie at Kingspan Stadium.

In a season when the knock-out picture seems tighter than ever, a multitude of twists and turns are expected before the final fixture of the weekend - and an unlikely set of results could even have Ulster secure a best runners-up spot before the first blast of Jerome Garces' whistle.

In all likelihood, Wasps' European ambitions will be ended before they next kick a ball.

For Ludik, there is no need to complicate matters. The South African says Ulster will be treating the game as a must-win no matter what rather than watching other results filter through.

"Sometimes those things can be tricky and dangerous if you just need a bonus point or something," said the South African, who was part of the Ulster side that missed out on the quarter-finals by a point two seasons ago.

"It's very dangerous to start thinking like that. We will go out to win it. You just have to go flat out from the beginning because if you have any doubts it's very dangerous.

"It doesn't matter how many points we have or what it looks like, we just have to go flat out and perform and win the game.

"It is a great team that we're playing, and we're away, so we're going to have to be better than last week. What we worked on last week really showed in the game and that's exactly what we have to do again."

Ludik was one of his side's key performers against La Rochelle on Saturday. He excelled defensively despite shifting from centre back to the wing after Craig Gilroy was lost to a cheekbone injury before the half-hour mark of the contest and Darren Cave came into the midfield.

With versatility one of the key tenets of his game, the now Irish-qualified former Natal Shark didn't think twice about moving into his more familiar spot in the back-three.

"Wherever you're in it, you're in it," he said. "It doesn't matter. What's nice about the game we try to play, especially in general play, it doesn't matter what the numbers are on your back, you just play, which is nice and we enjoy that."

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