Ulster and Cardiff clash o9n Friday in the PRO12 and both sides were the talk of Europe last week after impressive results over French clubs.
Ulster became the first team to topple Montpellier in their own back yard while Cardiff saw off European Champions Toulon and Ulster centre Luke Marshall feels it will be tough game against the Blues.
“I think it is going to be another big game, Cardiff had a big result at the weekend against Toulon and they will be full of confidence as well so we are going to have to be on top form to beat them,” said Marshall.
“Confidence is pretty high, we’re playing well but we are still leaving tries out on the pitch we’re missing opportunities and when they start going to hand and sticking confidence will be higher and I think we’re in a good place.”
“I think I played against Cuthbert before but not Halfpenny so it will be interesting.”
It was Marshall’s first taste of victory in France and he hailed the defensive effort and Ulster’s travelling support.
“It was pretty special and there was a great atmosphere in the ground and to get the win was pretty special and I was amazed by the away support because by the end of the game they were the noisy ones.”
“It was a funny sort of game most of the action was either in the tight or out wide, it was quite attritional up front and we kicked a lot of ball, the wings and full back were working quiet hard, the whole team was excellent and it was brilliant to keep them out in the last half.”
Marshall is partnered by Jared Payne in midfield for the Cardiff game.
“It freshens things up and gives you a different style of play because Darren and Jared are different style of players , they talk a lot on the pitch and training so it’s pretty easy to play with either of them.”
“You have to keep a close eye on Jared but if you do read his play and keep an eye on him and run lines of him you’ll get a couple of tries yourself, he is so intelligent and picks such good lines there is a chance you’ll get on the end of it.”
Marshall wants to see more of the ball this week.
“Hopefully I’ll get a chance to run with the ball but as long as we are winning that is all I care about really.”
Ulster go into the Cardiff game having won their last five games and Marshall feels a huge contributory factor to that has been the form of out half Paddy Jackson.
“He’s been brilliant, he has got a bit of confidence, last season things didn’t go his way which brought him down a bit but he was still playing good rugby, this year he has a bit more confidence and he has been exceptional the past few games, he is controlling our play and dictating things and he’ll be right up there for that starting jersey come the autumn internationals.”
Marshall did a lot of goal kicking a Ballymena but has no plans to start taking over the duties for Ulster.
“It is one of those things that I need to keep on practicing just to have it in case I every need it, Paddy and Ruan are kicking well at the minute and Stuart can kick as well so it’s just a matter of sitting back at the minute and letting them do it.”
Marshall is hoping his performances in the white shirt can help him gain a place in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad for the autumn test.
“It’s in the back of my mind and it gives me a motivation to play well for Ulster, I’m happy enough with the way I’m playing the last few weeks and fingers crossed I get picked for the squad.”
Marshall played in last autumn’s non capped game against Fiji but made his proper international debut against Scotland and although he was on the losing team he enjoyed the occasion.
“It was a disappointing result but I was still able to take the experience out of it on getting my first cap, Murrayfield is a pretty special place to play and being able to play with some of the guys that I watched when I was young like O’Gara and O’Driscoll.”
It is likely to be O’Driscoll’s last season and Marshall is hoping to play beside him again.
“He is probably on of the best players in the modern era and to play with him is pretty surreal and hopefully I’ll get another chance to play with him this year.”
“He raises the standards when you’re playing along beside him, he’s good to train and play with, he talks to you a lot and makes it easy to play with.”