Scrum half Paul Marshall admits that Leinster against Ulster needs little build up.
The sides met in the 2012 Heineken Cup final and last season’s RaboDirect PRO12 decider with Leinster winning both, while Ulster were victorious in the two regular season league meetings last year.
The Provinces meet for the first time this season at the RDS on Saturday night with both clubs jostling for .
“Certainly with the position that Munster are in with the run they’ve had they’re in a good position, Leinster are always there are there abouts and in the last couple of years we have pushed on,” said Marshall.
“It’s certainly competitive when the Irish provinces play against each other and we play each other around Christmas there is always an added incentive to try and get one up on those guys.”
Last year’s epic win at the RDS eas Ulster’s first against Leinster in Dublin since 199 and Marshall is hoping it just wasn’t a one off.
“When you look at our record over the last few years down their our record wasn’t great and you need to break you duck at some time and it was a great performance down there last year to win, we were disappointed with how the final went but it doesn’t hold any fear for us.”
“I think when we turn up and play well we can beat any team in the league home or away but it comes down to our own mind set, as you saw last week we were probably a wee bit off and didn’t put Zebre away the way would have like too but we know if we’re in the right place mentally we’ll be fine.”
Ulster go into the game as the form team.
“They have lost their last couple of games and they don’t usual go on a run where they lost too many games in a row and they will do everything they can to stop that, we’ve had five on the bounce so we’ll want to continue that, it’s a big few weeks and it doesn’t get much bigger that Leinster and Munster and round five and six of the Heineken , it’s an exciting time for everybody to be involved.
Once again for a Christmas derby both sides will be missing key players and Marshall understands fans frustration but acknowledges the players need rest.
“I think everybody wants to see two full strength sides going out especially when it’s Irish international against Irish international in many positions, people want to see a dog fight among everybody but it doesn’t take too much to get yourself up for these games no matter who is playing, I know in terms of how these games fall just before Heineken five and six coaches maybe want to rotate players and give guys a well earned rest who’ve maybe slugged out the last few weeks in the Heineken Cup.”
“It can be frustrating for the onlooker if they don’t see two full strength teams but the way rugby is now you need to rotate your team and players need to be rested for peak times.”
Marshall won his first Ireland cap in last season’s Six Nations and added another two on the summer tour but admits on current form he could struggle to be involved in February.
“To be honest I think I’m a bit down the pecking order at the minute and I don’t think I can look too far ahead as regards that, I’ve just got to try and keep playing well and if I am playing well I’ll be happy and if anything else comes from that brilliant.”
“I maybe haven’t set the world alight this year but I don’t think I have played badly but maybe haven’t had some of the highlights I’ve had over the last year or two which can sometimes can get your named mention and get you attention, I’ve been steady enough and if I can put in a few solid performances over the next few weeks you never know, there are a few guys ahead of me but it is something to keep working on.”
Marshall will start at the RDS and explains the difference in run out and coming of the bench.
“If you are on the bench your mind set can be different depending on how the game has gone, some times it is already won and you’re trying to rack up the pace and score a couple of extra tries others it’s very tight and you are trying to play more tactical and put pressure on the opposition, so you’re not playing on the hoof because you have time to think and you have to be thinking of playing in different zones so it’s a bit trickier than starting where you get feel for the game.”
“Something I have learned over the last few years if you try to hard it doesn’t work, you have just got to play like you play each week, if you try to force things more often than not it doesn’t come off so you just have to play your own game.”
Marshall has special praise for his half back partner on Saturday Paddy Jackson.
“I started with Paddy at Zebre away, I think he is a smashing player and has had a great season so far, he has matured massively over the last 18 months and he is knocking on the day of the Irish team, he is very composed and I like playing with him.”