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Ulster Rugby Prop Declan Fitz bill for all the big occasions

It all starts with some banter about Martin Castrogiovanni but thankfully doesn't stray anywhere near the former Leicester Tigers and now Toulon prop's own very colourful post-match territory.

No, 'Castro's' fellow member of the propping fraternity, Ulster's Declan Fitzpatrick, is not up for travelling the same route with this interview as the Italian so controversially managed last Sunday - after the French giants had lost at the Tigers in Ulster's group.

So it's down to some interesting, but rather more restrained, comments on what may occur for Ulster on Sunday in their concluding European double-header at the Scarlets, who they beat 24-9 on Saturday.

With Wiehahn Herbst sidelined for Ulster's fourth outing in a now rather interesting Pool Three, this is a rare opportunity for Fitzpatrick to get a start and try and make up some lost ground on his team-mate.

"It's a shame it has to come down to an injury," says Fitzpatrick. "But I know I'm more than capable of doing a job for the team.

"Hopefully I can put down a marker as Wiehahn has been doing well. It's an opportunity for me to put him under pressure for when he comes back," he adds.

Fitzpatrick arrived on the pitch last Saturday night at a key moment against the Scarlets, with Ulster only leading 14-6 and needing to kick on in the early stages of the second half.

That soon became 14-9 and the pressure was on for Fitzpatrick and co to do something fast.

The moment presented itself just before the hour mark when, from a scrum, Ruan Pienaar wrapped around Darren Cave before giving Tommy Bowe just enough space to use his strength to work his way over at the corner.

It was particularly pleasing for Fitzpatrick that the score was sculpted from what is meat and drink to him with the tight-head prop helping secure a slight nudge at the set-piece to allow Pienaar to break blind.

"I'm used to it now," the 31-year-old, who will make his 95th appearance for Ulster on Sunday, states. "In that I'm coming on at pressure moments but luckily enough I've got that experience.

"Coming cold off the bench is always difficult but I thought we were still in a good place as a team," he adds, though the heat was on when the Scarlets closed Ulster's lead to just five points.

"But something we've learned over the last few weeks is that we've got to keep our composure and just grind them (opponents) down. We did that quite effectively and we didn't lose our patience and that's going to be crucial (for Sunday)."

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On a good night for the Ulster scrum, they secured all seven on their own put-ins, Fitzpatrick made his own contribution and the late penalty which was won as the Scarlets attempted to turn the screw on the home side's then seven-man set-piece - Pienaar had been yellow-carded with Paul Marshall being brought on and Robbie Diack removed - was another feather in the cap for forwards coach Allen Clarke's charges.

"Yeah that was pleasing," says Ireland international Fitzpatrick of Ulster's scrummaging.

"They've (the Scarlets) caused a few people problems. But I know at home they pride themselves on their scrum but I think there is definitely room for improvement on our side of the scrum.

"I think we've a good chance of upsetting them again but we have to be right on our game as they are dangerous at scrum time."

As for Ulster's prospects of going one better than in September when they drew 32-32 on the PRO12's opening day - incidentally the best result they have had in three European visits has also been a draw which was achieved in the back-to-back games in 2008-9 - Fitzpatrick remains upbeat that it can be done and that the squad can keep themselves in the mix as the pool stages head towards their final two games next month.

"You have to bring confidence and momentum into these games so there's a real feeling we can get the win," he says.

"But we know how difficult it will be.

"We just need to focus on getting the win and see where that puts us."

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