EUROPEAN RUGBY: Craig Gilroy confident Ulster will bounce back on French travels

Craig Gilroy scores against Connacht in the Guinness PRO12
Craig Gilroy scores against Connacht in the Guinness PRO12

Ireland winger Craig Gilroy insists last week’s defeat at Connacht in the GUINNESS PRO12 will not distract Ulster as they embark on Europe.

Les Kiss’s side suffered their first defeat of the season last Friday in Galway but are still top of the PRO12 going into the Champions Cup.

“We lost our last game but we're top of the league,” said Gilroy. “We can take a lot of confidence from that but we have to keep reminding ourselves how good we are and what we can do.

“It's important to get the first win in this competition to get the ball rolling.

“We've had a few extra days to recover and I think sometimes people don't realise how important that can be. They're invaluable to get the detail right.

“It was disappointing down there (Connacht) it was a game we could have won but we left a lot on the pitch.

“It was frustrating for us as players, it's disappointing to see the coaches after, how they reacted and how peed off they were, it's us on the pitch and it's us that caused it.

“There were some positives there, fighting back and getting to where we did but certainly we left a lot out there.”

The match could come down to the battle of the Irish outhalves Paddy Jackson and Ian Madigan, with Gilroy feeling his old school chum is on the top of his game.

“There's a friendship but a competitive rivalry. It's not just about one guy, it's about 15 and we need the whole team.

“Since he returned this season, Jacko has been unbelievable.

“He's a joy to play with, and it's great to see the way he's improving and getting better in every game.

“I played with ‘Jacko’ at school and he has come on so much year after year, he had a fantastic summer tour with Ireland and has carried that form right into this season.”

Gilroy could have his hands full in his own personally battle with Bordeaux’s Australian winger Adam Ashley-Cooper who has scored 37 tries at test level.

“I've been doing homework, he's on fire, running in tries for fun and he's doing well,” said Gilroy.

“He's a very experienced player who has done unbelievably well for his country so it'll be a great experience for me to have a crack at playing against him.”

Bordeaux, coached by former French hooker Raphael Ibanez have hit form coming into Europe and have climbed to fifth in the Top 14 table.

Gilroy added: “They are an impressive side and they've won three in a row.

“They're playing with confidence and they're unpredictable with the way they throw the ball around, it keeps you on your toes.

“We need to front up physically more than anything, we need to be physical and get go forward ball.

“We've the personnel to be pretty devastating, the backline we have no matter who you pick, you boast a lot of big names.”

Gilroy is in an ultra-competitive Ulster back three and the fight for places has seen Tommy Bowe play for the ‘A’ team last night.

“There are guys putting their hands up, everyone is, even the younger guys, they're creating that competitive edge that we need.

“We need everything to really push on in both competitions and be the best we can be.

“One game at a time, it's a tough place to go and we're going to prepare the best we can come Sunday.”

Gilroy is hoping to add to his eight international caps in the autumn.

“It's something you can't let eat into you, everyone has aspirations to play for Ireland, and yes I want to be involved but I'm not going to put unnecessary pressure on myself, that all takes care of itself when you play well for Ulster.”