GUINNESS PRO12: Ulster must control their own destiny insists captain Rory Best
Skipper Rory Best does not want to go into the last weekend of the Guinness PRO12 regular league season relying on someone else doing Ulster a favour.
The Irish captain wants his Province to take the bull by the horns on Saturday afternoon at Kingspan Stadium and make a statement of intent when current league leaders and arch provincial rivals Leinster come to Belfast.
Fourth placed Ulster can take a major step towards the PRO12 play-offs if they get the win.
Lose, and dependent on results elsewhere over the penultimate weekend of regular league season games, they will have to go to Ospreys and win and wait until results from elsewhere are known for their fate to be decided.
It may not be knockout rugby per se, but Best insists that is the way Ulster must approach things.
“We have to control our own destiny and that means beating Leinster on Saturday,” he insists.
That of course will be easier said than done and Ulster have been the bridesmaid too often to the Leinster side in crunch matches previously.
But Best does not believe Leinster are a bogey team and does not look back on previous outcomes - which for the record have been one success in seven previous encounters.
“I do not look at it in that way (Leinster being a bogey team),” said Best.
“There’s a lot of teams who have lost to Leinster in knock-out rugby over the last five or six years.
“We just happen to be the one in the league they continually beat.
They won competitions because they’re a quality side. We just didn’t have the same level of accuracy and mental strength possibly on the previous key occasions.
“We feel that with Les (Kiss) coming in and really addressing that side of things, we’re a more difficult side to beat. I know we haven’t shown that at times this year, but I do think when we get our strongest side out we are very tough to beat.”
Although Ulster lost the corresponding fixture in Dublin this season, 8-3, Best feels they can take a lot from it.
“When we look back at the run we went on post that, and I know we ended up losing to Munster, but that Leinster game was a kind of turning point for us.
“We came in for the second half with the wind and we were losing and we were going ‘here’s the story we can either just play this next 40 and get the game over with or we can actually go and play with a bit of ambition and not be up tight.’
“I think we did that (played with ambition) and we took that into the Toulouse games and went on a bit of a run where we played with ambition and played with fast, open rugby which suited us down to the ground as we’re not a massive pack and not a massive team, bar maybe a McCloskey, we need to play with quick ball and tempo.
For me that second half in that Leinster game probably sparked a lot of our belief that this is the best defence in the league we’re up against and we had opportunities to get into the lead in that game and unfortunately we weren’t as accurate as we needed to be that day.
“But we took a lot of belief and confidence from it into those European games and the tail-end of the year and in to January.”
Leinster could effectively go into Saturday’s game in third place in the standings if both Connacht and Glasgow win their games on Friday night against Treviso and Zebre respectively.