Prop Callum Black is set to make his first start for Ulster since the victory at Welford Road over Leicester in the final round of the Heineken Cup when the club face Dragons at Ravenhill on Friday night in the PRO12.
Black came up against British Lion prop Dan Cole and he was happy with the team and his individual performance in the East Midlands.
“It was a big occasion and I was chuffed to get the start, the way the game went it was a big occasion for myself and I enjoyed every minute of it and I want to try and improve every week so I can be in a position to be involved in more big games like that,” said Black
“I’ve played against Dan Cole a few times when I was back in England and the way we have had them in pre season the last two years, I enjoy playing against him it’s a good test and you want to play against the best and test yourself.”
This time last season Ulster’s title bid was hit by injury and international call ups and althought the performances have been there against the Ospreys and Treviso Black is happy to have eight points from both games.
“The way the block of game is going we knew there would be disruption at this time of the season with the Six Nations there is people coming in and out, we targeted to get the four wins in this period, it hasn’t been pretty but sometimes when you’re not playing well and still get the result you have to take the positives out of that, there is plenty to work on.
“It helped us the way results went, we just have to take every game as it comes keep getting the wins and climb up the table and hopefully come the playoffs we’ll be in the right position.”
While it looked like Ulster were on the wrong end of a few bad decisions by referee George Clancy in Treviso Black knows you have to adapt to the official.
“It was a tough day at the office and a few decisions didn’t go our way, every ref interrupts it differently but as the game went on we worked better with the ref and tried to work through every situation, it’s hard because different props will try to do different things to cheat in their own way and you just have to manage that and try to work with the ref.
The Dragons beat Ulster at Rodney Parade in the first game of the season and enjoyed victory over Glasgow last weekend and despite captain Andrew Coombs being ruled out with a should injury Black knows Ulster will have to at their best to win.
“That is a lot of motivation for us, we didn’t perform to our best in that first game they got the win and will take confidence from that, they are not going to have too many changes from the Six Nations because they are a solid group of players, they will come out firing and it’s a great opportunity to make up for the first game by coming out in front of our home crowd and put in a performance.”
Mark Anscombe’s men have won their last 10 games at Ravenhill and Black is hoping they can keep that run going in the build up to the Heineken Cup quarter final against Saracens at the beginning of April.
“There is a great buzz about the place, every time there is a Friday night game it is sold out and everybody is looking tickets of you, if when can keep getting good results and building towards Saracens and fill the stadium it will be a cracking atmosphere.”
“We have the Dragons then a break before a block of three games leading up to the Saracens game, we’re still taking every game as it comes.
One of Black’s passions off the rugby pitch is horse racing but his Cheltenham festival plans have been disrupted after the postponed Scarlets game has been rearranged for the same dat as the Gold Cup.
“If that was our week off it would have been nice to get over and see a few races I’ll still put on a few bets but it’s disappointing to miss out on that week.”