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Topping pool five would make a huge statement insists Rory Best

Ulster's Rory Best is tackled by Leicester's Logovi'i Mulipola during the clash at Ravenhill

Ulster's Rory Best is tackled by Leicester's Logovi'i Mulipola during the clash at Ravenhill

Ulster hooker, Rory Best, believes that coming out of Pool Five as winners and thus securing top seeds in Europe for the quarter-finals would go a long way in making a statement about the pedigree of the squad.

The Irish Province are the only club remaining who will make qualification to the last eight for the fourth successive season in the Heineken Cup.

Away defeats to Northampton Saints (2011) and Saracens (2013) were either side of a final appearance loss in 2012 to Leinster.

The last time Ulster had qualified for the last eight was in the year they won the European Cup, 1999, and that is also the only other time they had home advantage in a quarter-final.

A win against Leicester Tigers on Saturday will assure Ulster number one seeding for the last eight and a crucial home draw.

Being at the top table once again does reflect the credentials of Ulster who have had to live in the shadow of Munster and more recently Leinster, with both going on to win Europe’s premier club competition title twice.

Ulster is a club people do talk about more as one of the top clubs in Europe, but until they actually get their hands on the trophy, perhaps cannot be termed as one of the tournament elite.

Best said obviously biggest statement any club could do was to win it.

“Until you do that people perhaps do not talk about us that much.

“When you talk about the Irish Provinces it is about Munster and Leinster - and rightly so you just have to look at their pedigree over the years.

“We feel we have all the ingredients to be a top European club, but ultimately like everything unless you actually do it, words and talk are cheap.”

Best added: “We have to make sure we put ourselves in the best position to win it and part of that is getting a home quarter-final.

“Beyond that it is out of your control, it is a draw for the semis and then you are into the final.

“The last thing we have in our control this season ahead of the last eight is Saturday and getting a win which ensures we have a home quarter-final.

“It is one more step we have to take in Europe. This is our fourth time in four years to reach the quarter-finals, we want this one to be at home.”

Last week’s 27-16 win over Montpellier at Ravenhill saw a somewhat disappointing reaction in many quarters because Ulster had failed to get a try scoring bonus point – even though that effectively was not necessary for further progress.

What was overlooked was the fact that Ulster remained the only club unbeaten in Europe and still in control of their destiny.

Best remarked: “Possibly the big thing overlooked, in my opinion, is that this is the toughest group. Other groups have been talked about because they are a bit closer.

“With us and Leicester having run away with things a bit the toughness of the group has not been reflected.

“When the draw was made last June Pool Five was the group of death with us, Leicester and Montpellier in it.

“For us to be going into the final round five from five. To have navigated the group the way we have has been a fantastic achievement.”

 

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