It was business as usual for Ulster coach, Mark Anscombe, as he geared his side up for another Heineken Cup pool match.
The fact that Ulster had already qualified for the last eight as Pool Four winners before going into this Saturday afternoon’s clash against French side Castres changed nothing as far as he was concerned.
Last week, following the win over Glasgow Warriors, Anscombe acknowledged the effort of his squad of players this season in Europe.
“This group have now achieved something and we are delighted,” he said.
This week as he prepared for the French trip to Castres Anscombe said: “It was back to work this week. We qualified for the last eight last week, but we want the home draw.
“This week was all about keeping the focus. Keeping the feet on the ground.
“A goal at the start of the season was to qualifying for the knockout quarter finals with a home draw.”
Anscombe knows exactly what his side need to do to achieve that.
“I know to be sure we need to get a try scoring bonus.
“I also know that if we win it will be the first time we have won a competitive game in France in Europe.
“I know that if we just win then there are results which we will need to go our way in other places.
“But we are not getting caught up in all of that. We have to go out and win the game, and remember they have never won away in France before.”
Anscombe did see an Ulster side defeat Bayonne in France in a pre-season friendly.
“It counts for little this weekend. We have a new challenge ahead of us. We have a lot of injuries - I think the last I counted was 12.
“Yes we are going over to France to win the game. If we get it with a bonus point then better again.
“But we have to rise to the challenge being put in front of us and Castres will certainly not be simply lying down.
“I do not think they will field a weakened side as they have a proud record at home (only one loss this season to date) and they are still in the hunt to finish second in the group which could take them somewhere,” added Anscombe.
The Kiwi admitted that there was a bit of pressure off since the side had secured their last eight place with the win over Glasgow, but he said he wanted to players to challenge themselves this week by going out to France and making history.
“The guys who have been given the opportunity this weekend can go out and be part of a team who can write their little piece into the great history of this club by being a member of a team which wins a first European game in France.”
“That is something for a young footballer - something for them to be proud off when they look back over their careers. I want them to achieve that home draw and I know they can.”
Castres: Pierre Bernard; Max Evans, Seremaia Bai, Remy Lamerat, Marcel Garvey; Remi Tales, Rory Kockott; Yannick Forestier, Marc-Antoine Rallier, Anton Peikrishvili, Matthias Rolland (c), Christophe Samson, Mathieu Babillot, Piula Faasalele, Pedrie Wannenburg.
Replacements: Brice Mach, Saimone Taumoepeau, Hai Lazar, Joe Tekori, Thierry Lacrampe, Jannie Bornman, Paul Bonnefond, Marc Andreu.
Ulster Rugby: Craig Gilroy; Andrew Trimble, Darren Cave, Paddy Wallace, Mike Allen; Ruan Pienaar, Paul Marshall; Tom Court, Rory Best, John Afoa, Lewis Stevenson, Neil McComb, Robbie Diack, Chris Henry (c), Roger Wilson.
Replacements: Rob Herring, Callum Black, Declan Fitzpatrick, Iain Henderson, Mike McComish, Michael Heaney, Paddy Jackson, Chris Cochrane.