Billy Burns hoping Ulster can take advantage at Kingspan

Billy Burns has warned Ulster home advantage alone is not enough to guarantee a win against Munster in tonight’s United Rugby Championship quarter-final.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Friday, 3rd June 2022, 7:00 am

Ulster have already lost at home this season to the men from Limerick and were also eliminated from the Heineken Champions Cup at Kingspan Stadium by Toulouse. Outhalf Burns partners John Cooney at half back, and while he knows home comforts means nothing in terms of the result, he is happy to be in Belfast for the last eight clash rather than the alternative for finishing outside the top four which would have been a trip to South Africa.

“It’s huge, it’s something we were very much aware of,” said Burns. “Any time you can play at home is a massive advantage, not just on match night but not having to travel, or sleeping in your own bed, it might sound like something that isn’t important, but it is.

“We want to give back to the fans that have shown so much effort to keep turning up for us each weekend.

Billy Burns of Ulster. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

“This is the business end of the season, these are the games people really want to watch, and the fact that we could bring a huge interpro quarter-final at home is huge. The atmosphere I’m sure will be amazing and hopefully that can help us get a good result in the game.

“It was hugely important but we also know that being at home doesn’t give you any right to win.

“We’ve had some of our best performances on the road which is proof of that, we’ll definitely look forward to hopefully putting on a good show for our fans.”

Burns is hoping Ulster can take the lessons from the Toulouse home defeat.

“We learnt a lot, there were a few things that didn’t go our way on the night,” he said.

“Over the two legs we didn’t make the most of the period they played with a man down. We didn’t build ourselves a big lead but we still backed ourselves to beat them at home and couldn’t quite get the job done.

“We learnt huge amounts in terms of how we approach games, win or lose you learn stuff every week.

“This is our first knockout game since then so we’ll see if we’ve learnt those lessons and hopefully, as painful as it was, we can turn those learnings into a result.”

However, Ulster know defeat tonight and their season is over.

“It’s extra motivation, it’ll be our last game at home which is something,” said Burns.

“We always want to win at home and we definitely want to finish the season at home with a win, last game in front of our fans here...potentially, I know the final might be.

“There is an added pressure to that, there’s always pressure when you come to these knockout games, you know the game is going to be won on the night and that could be it, there’s no second chance.

“It’s this or nothing, but that’s the sort of environment I think this team thrives on.

“When there’s pressure on us it seems to bring the best out of us and we’ll be looking to do that again this weekend.”

Stewart Moore is given the nod at full back stepping in for the injured Michael Lowry while Cooney makes his 100th appearance for the province.

Ulster Rugby team to play Munster Rugby, United Rugby Championship quarter-final, Friday 3 June at Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm kick-off:

(15-9) Stewart Moore, Rob Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Billy Burns, John Cooney;

(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Marcus Rea, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Kieran Treadwell, Matty Rea, Nathan Doak, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.