Ireland lock Dan Tuohy is hoping Ulster can secure their first European quarter final at Ravenhill since 1999.
The equation is simple win against Leicester at Welford Road and not only will Mark Anscombe’s guarantee a home tie in the last eight they will also be top seeds.
“I think as a squad you look at a set of milestones, we’ve not won at Welford Road so to win there would be a milestone and then get the quarter-final here would be another milestone as it hadn’t happened since 1999,” said Tuohy
“Everyone keeps talking about 1999 because it was a great season well we’re in the cycle of the squad now where it’s coming to the end for certain top quality players so it’s about time we did the business and won something and I think we’ve a better opportunity of doing that if we get the home quarter-final.”
If the Tigers win they will top Pool Five and Ulster win be on the road in the last eight for a fourth consecutive season.
“You can’t get away from it, this is it for us, if we don’t get the win we’re still in a Heineken Cup quarter-final.”
“We’ve got ourselves in a good position by playing well over the five games but for us as a top European side we’ve got to be looking at a home quarter-final otherwise you’re going away to somewhere where it’s going to be very, very tough.”
“We had to do it last year and couldn’t do it and I think it’s a massive advantage for us if we get this home quarter-final and it would clear the way nicely for us to possibly progress.”
Ulster have lost both times they have travelled to Welford Road in the Heineken and the Tigers have made the East Midlands ground a fortress with Munster the last side to win their in Europe during the 2006/07 competition.
“It’s tough, we were there a couple of years ago and it was a nip and tuck game which we lost in the end, we had a pre-season game this year so it’s a ground we’re familiar with.”
“The pitch is smaller than you think it is and the crowd is on top of you and it’s a hostile atmosphere but that’s great and you try to embrace that and use it to your advantage”
“In recent years, teams have got some good results there so there’s no reason why we can’t and go there with confidence, that’s the main word for us this week, it’s been confidence and believing in our ability.”
“We also have to respect them because they are a good side but we’re a good side and we’re progressing through, they will be hugely proud of their home record and they’ll want to defend it but for us we’ve got to go over there and spoil the party, if you get drawn against French teams, well, their form can be so bad that a French team will not have beaten them there for a long time.”
That was probably a great Munster team that did that.”
“They have quality though and strength even though they are missing top players like Parling, Croft and Tuilagi, they’re still a good team even though they are missing these guys and if we were missing such guys of that calibre we’d be struggling.”
“It’s exciting for us, we consider ourselves a good side and if you’re a good team you’ve got to go over to places like that and get results.”
Ulster are top seeds going into the final round of pool matches are could still end up going to one of the French heavyweights in the last eight.
“We’ve been a little unlucky, I was screaming at the TV when they went over against Montpellier and as soon as they did that I thought ‘Welford Road, it will all come down to Welford Road’.”
“I would have liked to go over there and think, ‘a couple of points here will get us a home quarter’ but that’s the sort of carrot that’s been dangled in front of us in that if we win, we’re top seed and our destiny is in our own hands.”
“We’ve won away at Northampton, we’ve won away at Munster, I don’t fancy going away to Toulouse or Toulon, or Clermont or someone like that.”
“We knew out there (Ravenhill) we gave them a losing bonus point late on and then we didn’t get our own last week but we knew this (Welford Road) was always going to be a hurdle we had to get over and I think if we can beat them there it really bodes well for our confidence as we break up with guys going away to the Six Nations and then when we come back we’re still in with a shout of the top four in the league with possibly an away tie as we may not make the top two now.”
“So that confidence of winning at Welford Road will be infectious for morale and it will really mean something to us because with the European break of three months we need to get that (win), put that to bed and then you can move on.”
Ulster have struggled in their last two games but have won them both and Tuohy isn’t unduly worried.
“It’s been frustrating the Leinster game was poor but not as poor as everyone made it out to be.” “Against Munster we were just not quite there, the application was there I just think it needed a little bit of that last 10% with passes needing to go to hand and a little bit more accuracy.”
“Guys have come back and are fit now and have integrated back into the squad, Rory for example and guys like that are galvanising us a little bit.”
“Everything is there for us to go and do the job, it’s just about getting over that mental block and going out and doing it.”
Tuohy has made Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad but is downbeat about his chances of playing in the opener against Scotland.
“I believe from what I’ve heard that I’ll probably be involved with the Wolfhounds team and that’s after this week and then we’ll see whether I’m involved with Ireland but I’m concentrating on this (Tigers) and I’m not really expecting to be involved with the senior team with Donnacha Ryan coming back fit.”
“I was told my position so that’s where I am with that one.”
“After the Wolfhounds they may make the 40-odd man squad into a 30-odd squad, Joe’s a good guy he wouldn’t be having you along to string you along, he’d be ‘we need you around’ or he’d be ‘we don’t need you around and have your week off’ so I don’t know if it’s going to be me or it could be any of us.”
“I’m probably not going to be involved against Scotland because I’m likely to be involved for the Wolfhounds so we’ll see what that brings.”