Richie ​Murphy in Ulster warning before double bid over Leinster

Ulster head coach Richie Murphy. (Photo by Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press)Ulster head coach Richie Murphy. (Photo by Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press)
Ulster head coach Richie Murphy. (Photo by Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press)
​Ulster will be looking to do a league double over Leinster and enhance their United Rugby Championship playoff credentials when the sides meet at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday night.

Ulster won by a point at the RDS on New Year’s Day but Richie Murphy - fresh from penning a deal to become permanent head coach with the province – doesn’t feel that game will count for much when the sides clash this week.

“That was a big one, the big differences are the personnel, (Steven) Kitshoff is out, ‘Hendy’ is (Ian Henderson) out, Tom O'Toole should make this game and is doing well, but there's a number of guys that were involved that day that haven't been training with us,” said Murphy. “We're under pressure in terms of players being missing, it always gives lads an opportunity to make a stake for the jersey.”

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Leinster may not field their strongest team as they have the European Cup final against Toulouse a week later - but Murphy knows whatever side Leo Cullen puts out it will be a test.

“Playing Leinster is always difficult no matter when you play them, but I've been in the Leinster camp coming up to Ulster a number of times - they don't find it an easy place to come either,” he said. “If the crowd can be as good as they've been in the first few games then I think they'll have a big part to play.

“Us, as Ulster, we need to turn up from minute one and put them under pressure, they've got class players no matter who turns up, so it'll be a big test coming up that will test certain elements of our game we're not happy with at the moment...behind closed doors we're working hard to fix that.

“We're at home, we're in Belfast, we're playing against a team that are extremely good but aren't going to pick their full team and have their eye on something else.

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"So it gives us an opportunity to focus in on the job at hand which is to try and get a win, that is made more difficult by the beating down in the RDS earlier in the season.”

Murphy highlighted the breakdown as “definitely an area we're working hard on improving” and that “some of our tackling quality hasn't been at the level required either”.

He added: “The game is changing, if you look around the place, there's much more tries being scored, it's more difficult to defend at the moment.

“We're finding that as well, getting better around the breakdown and being more efficient, trying to slow the ball down a bit, will give our defensive line more of an opportunity.

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“From an attacking point of view, our first three launches that we had at the weekend we looked clunky at the breakdown, and we didn't quick ball.

“Because of that you're on the back foot and it's hard to play. We fixed that at half-time and played some good stuff after the half.”

Murphy admitted Ulster are searching for a scrum coach but there won’t be much movement among the backroom staff.

“I'm very happy with what's here, there isn't a huge amount of scope, the guys who are there are under contract,” he said. “There might be one or two little things done in the background but not much.

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“John Fogarty won't be here forever, he comes up once a week and gives us a hand with the scrum.

“We need to look at who comes in, obviously Dan (McFarland) filled that role, we need to look at who fills that role moving forward and there is conversations happening around that.”

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