Captain Billy Burns staying positive after Ulster loss to Connacht

Despite conceding four tries in a 26-20 defeat by Connacht on Sunday, Ulster captain Billy Burns wanted to focus on the positives from the game at the Aviva before a return to Dublin this Saturday to face their old foes Leinster.
Ulster’s Billy Burns. Pic Pacemaker.Ulster’s Billy Burns. Pic Pacemaker.
Ulster’s Billy Burns. Pic Pacemaker.

Regardless of what happened last weekend - or, indeed, this weekend - Ulster will travel to Edinburgh on September 5 in the PRO14 semi-final.

“I don’t think Connacht was all doom and gloom, obviously we’re very disappointed but there were passages of play that felt good, felt like we were in a good spot,” said Burns. “But you’ve got to be doing that more consistently for longer periods of time and we didn’t do that, whether it be a lost ball at the breakdown or defensively not scanning.

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“Those things can’t happen as often as they did, we showed signs of what we can do and we showed signs of cohesion coming back but ultimately we weren’t as gelled or together as Connacht, which is hugely disappointing.

“We’ve got a great opportunity to work hard this week, we’re fit, it’s not about fitness, we’re prepared, we had a great week leading in, one of the best weeks I think we’ve ever had but for whatever reason we didn’t put it on the park and that’s for us and the coaching staff to get to the bottom of.

“The games are only coming thicker and faster and the importance of these games are huge, so we want to bounce back as quickly as we can.

“I wouldn’t be human if tried to give you an answer saying we weren’t delighted to be in that semi-final.

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“We’ve worked hard to get there obviously I know it’s a different pattern in the season with the break but we are obviously looking forward to that semi-final.

“We’re a team that plays best with confidence and you only get confidence through results and today was a really good opportunity to put a performance in and we didn’t take that opportunity, so we’ll try and perform again against Leinster and take some momentum into that semi-final.”

Burns knows Ulster will have to lift they game if they are to compete with Leinster as Leo Cullen’s side have won all 20 games this season.

“I think the general feeling you get when you’re warming up and coming into a game, I thought the guys were in a good place,” said Burns. “Obviously we showed there was a lack of energy on the pitch for whatever reason.

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“Ultimately we want to be a team who competes at the top level, we can’t be dipping out of performances week in, week out.

“It’s never nice losing to one of your closest rivals, we’ll go back, have a look at it, discuss it and hopefully get to the bottom of it. The good thing is we have an opportunity to come back here and put things right against Leinster.”

Burns enjoyed wearing the skipper’s armband on Sunday.

“It’s an honour to lead this province and I’m sure it is something that I will look back on and be even prouder of when I’m a little bit older, to be given the opportunity to lead these guys we have so many leaders and so much experience in the squad it is not too difficult a job,” said Burns. “It will be a good opportunity for me this week to reflect on how I maybe could have led the boys better, it was only my second or third time captaining but it was an experience I enjoyed.”


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