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We can wipe away gloom: Harrison

By Ciaran Donaghy

Australian lock Justin Harrison has called on Ulster to help lift the spirits of Irish rugby after the disappointing early exit from the world cup.

Following Ireland's defeat to Argentina and Ulster's reversal in Edinburgh, the 34 times capped Wallaby believes it's up to the province to fly the flag starting against the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Saturday evening.

"It's disappointing and I think Irish rugby is deflated," he said.

"It is now a huge challenge for us to get the players back into the province and get them comfortable with where they were before they went away to the world cup.

"Last week was disappointing as we went away to Edinburgh with realistic expectations to perform well and win the match.

"That didn't happen and it probably wasn't until the last 20 minutes that we played like anything we wanted to, which was too late.

"We now need to have a reaction, we have to have the physicality and the commitment we had in the lead up games and the first match against the Ospreys."

Ulster's away form has again been brought into question but Harrison believes that they have the quality to be able to take their Ravenhill successes on the road.

"Playing away from home is always difficult but certainly not an excuse and we're a good enough side to win." he said.

"Mentally we need to be more positive away from home and believe can play as well as we do at Ravenhill."

There were positive aspects from the Murrayfield defeat but Harrison believes the side must show a ruthless streak if they want to slay the Dragons.

"We had a lot of possession and line breaks against Edinburgh but it was the finishing that was letting us down and that comes from composure," he added.

"We've played enough away from home to be familiar with the situation.

"We have been relatively successful every time we've to Rodney Parade in the last couple of years so again we have to be comfortable with the pressure situation, recognise when they are likely to put us under pressure and come out of there with a result."

The Dragons have made a poor start to the season by only taking four points from four games but that doesn't tell the whole story as they were unlucky not to get a victory of Munster last weekend.

"They full deserved to beat Munster and would have if it wasn't for a run away try by Paul Warwick," admitted Harrison.

"They are a young aggressive side with good pack that gets them going forward and they have some conformational backs.

"We have some young players who will be faced with situations they are not familiar with so it's up to the senior guys like myself to perform well and give them some mental reassurance that this is what we play sport for and make them comfortable."

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