Sam Carter says unbeaten Ulster still have room to improve

Captain Sam Carter believes there is still more to come from Ulster despite their prefect start to the season.

Sunday, 10th October 2021, 4:51 pm
Updated Sunday, 10th October 2021, 5:08 pm

Dan McFarland’s side have a maximum 15 points from three games, scored 15 tries conceding five and have done it with 11 international players side-lined due to injury, yet there has been criticism over the three performances so far.

In the latest victory over Benetton (28-8) on Friday night Ulster crossed for their third try on 33 minutes but had to wait another 45 minutes for man of the match Nathan Doak to go over to secure the bonus point.

Former Wallaby lock Carter is happy to have maximum points but knows there are work ons.

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Ulster captain Sam Carter.

“It is a good place we are in where we are winning with bonus points and we are disappointed with parts of our play,” reasoned Carter.

“There is still stuff we need to work on and still stuff we need to keep pushing ourselves to achieve but the expectations are there that we need to be playing better, so that is a good place to be because you can always work on that whilst still winning.”

The 32-year-old second row has been impressed with how Ulster’s younger players have steeped up at the start of the season.

“That is all you can ask from young blokes - when they get their opportunity they take it, we have seen that with Dave McCann, Callum Reid, Nathan Doak, Ethan McIlroy and all the guys stepping up.

“They want to make their mark on the team and prove they are ready to play at this level and with that it keeps the pressure on the guys above them because they have to turn up each week and earn their spot as well.

“You can never knock anyone that takes their opportunities when they get them and it is good to see the young blokes coming through.

“That is the best spot to be in when you have the whole squad consistently competing against each other, it puts the pressure on the blokes at the starting level and the blokes underneath are keeping it competitive as well, and when they get their chance they just have to take it, which is what we are seeing and that is where you get the selection headaches and that is up to Dan.”

Ulster will face South African opposition for the first time in the United Rugby Championship on Friday night as the Emirate Lions visit Kingspan Stadium and Carter knows them well from his days of playing Super Rugby with the Brumbies.

“I’m glad we are playing them at home and not Jo’burg (Johannesburg) because I have played them a few times there,” he said.

“It is going to be a tough contest with their forward play, they have a big, tough physical pack, they have a great kicking game and pace out wide so it is something we are going to have to look at through the week and deliver on Friday.

“The lions are all based around the set piece, they pride themselves on the set piece, lineout maul, scrum, so if we go toe-to-toe and match them with the physicality there that will go a long way to winning that contest.”

After the Lions Ulster travel to Galway before a month’s break for the autumn internationals.

Carter concluded: “We want to start the season strong and that is five wins, we have started well but we are not going to get ahead of ourselves.”