Tom Court’s multi-faceted heroics in Ulster’s front row on Friday night will, one suspects, have had Irish coach Declan Kidney scribbling notes at pace.
The prop, whose conversion from the tight to the loose head side is now complete, has another great match at number one, the latest in a steadily lengthening line of impressive outings.
“We’re happy with the result. That’s two games in a row we knew we had to win and we’ve managed to get what we needed from them,” was Court’s analysis.
“We beat Munster in the previous game and on Friday night we did it again in another one we had to win. It mightn’t have been the best or most exciting match people have ever seen but sometimes getting a result is what matters.
“We are learning to win ugly, as they say.”
They are, and no-one in the Ravenhill crowd — a disappointing 8,262 with the weather clearly having taken its toll — was complaining at full-time
Stressing that point, and the discipline Ulster had displayed against Edinburgh, Court continued: “Our first half game plan was very limited in terms of any attempt at ball-playing. It wasn’t a night for trying to throw it about,” he said.
“In the first half it was about soaking up Edinburgh’s time with the wind advantage and trying to make sure we didn’t let them use that. That was a 10-point wind so have turned round just 6-5 down was very good. We were pretty happy with that.
“We didn’t concede too many penalties; we were disciplined because we knew we had to be. We knew that with that wind behind him, Paterson (Chris) would be able to punish anything within 50 metres so we tried not to give him chances.
“We kept it simple by continuing to pick up and go, pick up and go, pick up and go. Those were the right tactics for a match we had to win in conditions as bad as that. It wasn’t about trying to be attractive; it was about being effective.”
Expressing his admiration of his front row colleagues, who, like himself, excelled, Court added: “I’m glad to see Nigel (Brady) get a new contract. It can’t have been easy for him playing second fiddle to Rory (Best) year after year.
“But he’s the consummate professional and I’ve never seen him play a bad game.
“And everybody knows what BJ (Brendon Botha) offers.
“We’ve been doing pretty well as a front row.
“That’s partly due to the pressure the coaching staff put on us and to the pressure Brian (Young) and Declan (Fitzpatrick) apply every day.
“They’re pushing for a place all the time so I know I can’t afford a poor performance.”