Dan McFarland wary of Leicester Tigers front-row threat

Dan McFarland has issued a warning to the Ulster pack ahead of Friday night’s European Challenge Cup semi-final clash with the Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 7:00 am

McFarland, a former prop with Richmond, Stade Francias and Connacht during his 10-year playing career, believes no matter what starting front row the Tigers put out it will be a tough night for Ulster at the coal face.

Ellis Genge - capped 27 times for England - Tom Youngs, a British Lion in 2013 and Dan Cole, a double Lions tourist in 2013 and 2017, started for Leicester in their weekend defeat against Northampton but McFarland feels their understudies are just as good.

“It was a ding-dong battle there, it was tough against Northampton, we did a pretty decent job in the scrum against them. Do I take much from that? No, not really,” reasoned the Ulster coach.

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Ulster head coach Dan McFarland.

“It’s definitely going to be a huge threat, actually it wouldn’t matter whether they played Ellis Genge, Tom Youngs and Dan Cole or the guys on the bench, because their second-string front-row is as good a scrummaging set as their starting front-row.

“We’ve experienced (Luan) de Bruin, scrummaging against him when he was with the Cheetahs and Leicester have recruited him for one reason, and that’s because he was probably the biggest scrummaging loose-head in our competition at the time, and he’s demonstrated that in the Premiership.

“So they’ve got six threatening front-row forwards in the scrum, our guys have been scrummaging well over the past month but this will be the biggest challenge, absolutely no doubt.”

Buoyed by victories on the road in the last two rounds at Harlequins and Saints, McFarland hopes Ulster can bring their top game to Welford Road.

“If we can play with the speed that we know we can play with, I would hope that it would cause them trouble as we hope it causes most teams trouble.

“In order to do that we have to get our collision game going, we win collisions slightly differently than Leicester would and if we can do that, we’ll cause them trouble.”

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