Johann Muller bids a farewell to Ulster

Ulster's Johann Muller does his final lap as a professional player
Ulster's Johann Muller does his final lap as a professional player

Departing Ulster captain, Johann Muller, told the players he had spent four years with to keep believing in themselves and it would not be long before they got the big victory they yearned.

The former Springbok skipper gave one final captain’s post match talk to his team in Dublin on Saturday night after his final competitive match.

It was not the victory speech many had hoped for, Ulster losing to Leinster 13-9 in the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs.

But like all great leaders he was positive in his approach.

“I told them that if they stayed together and continued doing what he had been doing that it would not be long until they would celebrating a big Cup success.

“I said they had to keep believing and working hard.

“I said I would come back next year and drink the champagne with them.”

Muller has led Ulster to a Heineken Cup final (2012) and a RaboDirect PRO12 final (2013), only to end up losing, as they did in this season’s play-off to Leinster.

During his time playing with The Sharks in South Africa, it was the Bulls who continued to thwart him just as Leinster have during this time with Ulster.

“In South Africa for 11 years the Bulls were phenomenal they won plenty of trophies and we always finished second to them.

“We always played second fiddle to them for basically 11 years in a row then I come over here and Leinster take over and it’s like a second Bulls team for me,” laughed Muller.

But as the towering Springbok, who became an adopted son of Ulster rapidly when he arrived four years ago, prepares to take his family home he said he enjoyed every minute of his time with the Irish Province and his rugby career..

“I have no regrets I’ve loved my time over here and back home as well,” he said.

Muller is returning to the family farm in Mossel Bay and is hoping to stay in shape in spite of no more rigorous training sessions.

“We have got a couple of ex players that are on the coaching staff now that have put a bit of weight on after rugby.

“They tell me the same is going to happen to me so we’ll see how I look this time next year.”

“I am really excited about the next chapter in my life and I’m going to miss this.

“I’m going to miss the rugby, Fridays, Saturdays and game days but I won’t miss the training that much.

“ I’ll definitely miss the camaraderie within the team and the fun during and after the games.

“It has been my life for 16 years and I have loved every second of it.”

Muller has had offers to stay in the game but he wants to take some time out and relax.

“I have had a couple of offers to get into coaching but for e after 16 years I feel at this stage I just need to take a step away from the game.

“I will definitely get involved in rugby again but for the next year to 18 months I really just want to focus on farm life.

“I want to enjoy my family and working on the farm and doing what I love then after that if I have a bit of extra time I might get back into it again.”

He may even take a future role in the Ulster dugout.

“David Humphreys has already signed me up for 10 years from now,” quipped Muller, who quickly added: “ I’m joking.

“It has been a special place for me and David has already invited me back next year to watch a couple of big games.”