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Ulster players' World Cup disappointment can help fuel the fire for province, says new coach Grant

Big challenge: Roddy Grant is relishing his role with Ulster
Big challenge: Roddy Grant is relishing his role with Ulster
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

New Ulster forwards coach Roddy Grant has said the province are disappointed for their players who this week missed out on World Cup selection for Ireland.

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It's been a difficult summer for the Ulstermen possessing aspirations of a green jersey. Stuart McCloskey was the first to get bad news, failing to make the wider training squad back in May. Scrum-half John Cooney was next to go, falling in the second round of cuts without seeing a minute of warm-up action, while Rob Herring, Will Addison, Jack McGrath and Jordi Murphy all got the dreaded phone call from Joe Schmidt on Sunday evening.

"I'm really disappointed for them as I know they will be disappointed," said Grant, the latest to swap Scotland for Belfast after leaving Edinburgh in the summer.

"Like anything, I guess a coaching philosophy, you just want the opportunity for guys to be as good as they can be firstly. The biggest joy you get from coaching, certainly for me, is watching guys succeed, achieve goals, and I guess that's the teacher philosophy, I guess that's where we get our joy from."

Every cloud has a silver lining though, and Ulster will now have almost a full deck to choose from for the early weeks of the Guinness PRO14 campaign, which kicks off against Ospreys on September 27.

"It's totally exciting to work with them," added Grant by way of a counter-measure. "I haven't worked with them this pre-season so far and, obviously from a club point of view, it's great to have those guys back, and I'm looking forward to having them back in our environment, helping us drive our environment forward."

Born in Botswana to Scottish parents, Grant's career saw him bank over 100 outings in Edinburgh colours and, as such, he is no stranger to Kingspan Stadium.

Saturday's friendly against Glasgow offers a first game in his new role and he is relishing having the backing of the home crowd for a change.

"That was another big reason in coming here and why I was looking forward to coming here," he said. "Of all the venues, or certainly away games, this was always my favourite.

"I played here when it had the old terracing and that was awesome. The atmosphere here is incredible, and everyone knows it here.

"It's an incredible atmosphere, it was never hostile or offensive, it was just a really good, proper old rugby club atmosphere. It was awesome.

"If I was ever playing at No.8 and a high ball would come, you'd always get the jeers, but that's what you want.

"With the new Kingspan Stadium, it's awesome, it's an unbelievable venue to play the best in European rugby, and then throw in the atmosphere with it."

With head coach Dan McFarland something of a self-confessed scrum and line-out nerd, former flanker Grant's area of expertise at the breakdown figures to be a nice complement.

"It's no secret that packs need to be very good at the set-piece, which Dan is certainly world-class at, certainly scrum-time," he said.

"Line-out wise you want a good set-piece and you want to be consistent. It's no good being good in some games and not others, so consistency is going to be big for us.

"The beauty for me is with such a good head coach and forwards coach we can really create, build on what is already a good pack, a real edge and a good set-piece.

"There's a number of things you look for in pre-season games that hopefully, and this is down to us as coaches, our planning is spot on and we've done it efficiently that what we work on this week, we work on something different next week or build on whatever next week, and then, come Ospreys, that's on us.

"We should be good to go, knowing we have a full season ahead of us as well."

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