No last hurrah for Ulster skipper Johann Muller

Johann Muller talks to the Ulster players for the final time after the RaboDirect Pro12 Semi-Final defeat to Leinster
Johann Muller talks to the Ulster players for the final time after the RaboDirect Pro12 Semi-Final defeat to Leinster

One great rugby career was destined to end on Saturday night at the RDS when Leinster clashed with Ulster in the PRO12 semi final.

Brian O’Driscoll left the pitch injured to a standing ovation and with his side trailing 6-0 it looked like it would be the former Ireland and Lions captain’s last hurrah.

The sides exchanged penalties to give Ulster a 9-3 lead when they withdrew skipper Johann Muller on 59 minutes, Mark Anscombe’s team were in control but the game changed in the final quarter and it the former Springbok who bowed out at the final whistle.

“I actually had a protein shake when I came off because I thought I needed a bit of recovery for a few week’s time,” smiled Muller.

“But that is the way this game works, we were 9-3 up when I left and playing some good rugby and I thought we had a big chance of winning it.

“There was one score in that game all the time and Leinster that took the opportunity.

“They had one opportunity and took it and I thought we came back well in the last two minutes and could have easily won a penalty in those 10 to 15 phases that we had but huge credit to Leinster they were defensively outstanding.

“It’s not the way I wanted it to end. We said during the week we have played Leinster in a knockout game for the last three years and we’re zero out of three so we were really keen to make it one out of four.

“At a stage it looked like we had the better of them. But once again it shows the quality of the Leinster side they know when to raise their game.

“They have played in plenty of play-off games in the last five or six years and I think that experience of playing in those and knowing what they need to do just showed in that last 20 minutes.”

Ulster had dominated the first half in terms of territory, possession and had the advantage of the wind but only turned around 6-0 up.

“I don’t think the wind played a big part in the game, I actually though we played in the right areas of the field in the first half and we put pressure on them in the first half.

“Hats off to Leinster defensively I thought they were absolutely outstanding.

“Whenever we got to within five or six metres of their line they seemed to find an extra gear defensively, I don’t think it is one of those that we lost I think it is one that they won.”

For four seasons in a row Ulster’s season has been ended in a knockout game by Leinster and Muller is puzzled for a solution.

“If I knew that I would be a very rich man. We have put ourselves in those positions for four years in a row now and still there is nothing in the cabinet and nothing to show for it.

“I think that is the disappointing thing, I have played in plenty of teams in the past and a lot of games and sometimes you just need a bit of luck.

“This year we have had a huge amount of bad luck but that wasn’t one of those days we were beaten by a better side.”