It is right to have a high level of expectation says Ulster director LesKiss

Director of rugby, Les Kiss and assistant coach, Joe Barrakat
Director of rugby, Les Kiss and assistant coach, Joe Barrakat

Director of rugby, Les Kiss, does not shy away from the fact that Ulster are expected to win tomorrow’s Guinness PRO12 encounter in Italy against Zebre - and win it well.

This will be eighth meeting between the sides and in those previous seven, Zebre have only registered one success.

Lying second from bottom, Zebre are locked in a head-to-head with fellow Italian club Benetton Treviso, for the final qualifcation place from the PRO12 for the Euroepan Champions Cup next season.

That makes them as desperate as Ulster for a win.

The Irish Province are looking to secure their place among Europe’s elite next season which means a finish in the top six, but there is another target a place in the PRO12 play-offs.

With three rounds left of the regular league season, Ulster lie in fifth place.

They are three points behind fourth placed Scarlets and this game will probably determine if they will still make those play-offs.

Kiss said: “I have always said this would be the week which would determine the way things would sit.

“Yes there is an expectation from out there that we should win and expect ourselves to deliver something that can deliver the maximum points.

“It is right for people to expect that of us, but every team will be expecting that of themselves.

“We do not shirk away from that. We know the responsibility that comes from it (the expectancy) and we want to make sure we do ourselves justic but also position ourselves in a way that we hit the whistle firing not waiting for five minutes to start turning up.

“They (Zebre) are desperate, they are at home and they are fighting for a place in Europe.

“They are never easy that is for sure and we have to make it easier for ourselves by hopefully being in the right mental place,” added Kiss.

The Ulster chief admits the next few weeks are like a mini-season.

“At this stage everyone has three games left so we know exactly where it stands now and we know exactly where we are.

“For everyone every game matters. For us this game matters and we have got to get in front of it early.

“The only thing that matters at the minute is an away game to Zebre.

“Perhaps we have not travelled so well there in the past.

“That is something we have talked about. The challenge for us is we just have to go and be better from what we have delivered in the past.

Ulster and Zebre will name their sides at lunchtime today and there is the chance that British Lion winger Tommy Bowe will return to the senior side.