If Ulster lose in the PRO12 semi final to Leinster at the RDS on Saturday night their season will be over but for inspirational skipper Johann Muller it will signal the end of his career.
The former Springbok captain will hang his boots up at the climax of the season and he is hoping to prolong it with a victory over defending champions Leinster in Dublin.
“When you play in the league there’s always the next week.
“In this case there isn’t, this is our game right here and if we lose it, it’s done for us and if we pitch up and play well and put everything into it then anything is possible. But there are no second chances now,” said Muller.
“It’s not about me, I’ve had my time and I’ve loved it, this is about what we want to achieve.”
“If it’s my last game, so be it and if it’s my second last then fine, for me, it doesn’t matter.”
“I want to go out on a high like every single player but the mentality for me doesn’t change if this is my last game.”
Muller has only one victory against Leinster in his for years at Ulster and that came in the league last season at the RDS.
“Before that I had never beaten Leinster. I had been out in the Christmas game because of my broken arm so it was my first victory against Leinster in three years as it was then.”
“Obviously I really enjoyed it and it was our first in say 13 years and our first in the RDS.”
“That was a great achievement for us as a team and you know we beat them twice last year in the league games and then lost in the final
“They have beaten us twice this year in the league game, but anything is possible in a semi-final so that’s encouraging.”
Muller received a hero’s send off at Ravenhill a fortnight ago now he just wants to concentrate on the game.
“I think two weeks ago against them here was my time too, after that to be honest with you all my emotions have been drained out of me after that game.”
“My only focus is now to play well on Saturday and hopefully get the result that we want.”
“There could be another week after that but I’m not thinking about that. I had a great time here two weeks ago at Ravenhill at the opening of the stadium with my family and my kids and there’ll be memories I’ll hold onto.”
For a fourth consecutive season Ulster face Leinster in a knock out game.
“It’s funny how it seems that every time this year we run into Leinster. It’s been in the Heineken Cup it’s been in the PRO12s, it’s finals, it’s semi-finals.”
“It’s been the same old story, there’s a reason why they are champions they’ve got an unbelievable side and obviously have achieved so much over the past six years.”
“They’ve basically got the same personnel and this is another really tough one for us.”
Ulster have only beaten Leinster once in Dublin since 1999 and no away side has ever won a semi final in the Pro12 playoffs but Muller is happy Ulster have the underdog tag.
“I don’t think there are a lot of people who will put money on us and sometimes that’s a great position to be in.”
“There’s no pressure and you can go out there and play, we obviously as players put ourselves under pressure but we’ve got to out there and just leave everything on the park, that’s all we can do.”
“The only thing we don’t want to do is come back here thinking we should have done this or we should have done that.”
“We’ve got to give it everything and if we hit our strides then anything is possible.”
“We did it last year in the round-robin but we’ve got to be honest with ourselves we’ve only beaten them once in 13 or 14 years so we’re under no illusion as to what lies ahead on Saturday.”
Ulster came close to toppling Leinster after Ravenhill two weeks ago and played for 64 minutes with 14 men and the skipper knows discipline is the key.
“They’ve got a great set-piece and with penalties they get opportunities, scrums five metres out they get opportunities and it’s the same with lineout mauls from the same sort of distance.”
“Like we’ve seen over the last six weeks, you can play with as much character as you want but if you have 14 guys out there for such a long period of time you’re very seldom going to win games.”
“So, ideally we’d like to have 15 guys on the field for 80 minutes and if we do that will set us up for a cracker of a game.”
Muller had special praise for young Ireland lock Iain Henderson.
“I think he’s been outstanding, at the start of the season he struggled with injury and he’s been jumping between six and four and five quite a bit.”
“It’s brilliant to see him now playing in the second row for five or six games in a row, a young guy like him, what they need is to play week in and week out and learn their trade and it’s been outstanding to see how he’s grown over the last six to eight weeks.”
“I’m sure we’ll see another outstanding performance from him at the weekend.”
Muller has one last duty to perform at Ravenhill and that will be to sign the wall of legends in the tunnel which already has Brian O’Driscoll’s signature on it.
“I haven’t it yet, I have been asked to do that so we’ll see over the next couple of weeks where we’ll go with that.”