Stuart McCloksey knows only a win will do to to keep Ulster’s Champions Cup hopes alive
It is a simple equation for Ulster against Gloucester at Kingsholm on Saturday afternoon in the Heineken Champions Cup.
Defeat to the English Premiership side will end Ulster’s interest in the Europe’s top competition after just two of the four pool games and leave them fighting for the consolation prize of a place in the Challenge Cup last 16.
A win would breathe new life into the campaign after last week’s home defeat by Toulouse.
Ireland centre Stuart McCloskey (pictured) feels if Ulster can win their remaining three games they will be in the mix for the quarter-finals.
“I think it would be a bit premature to say we’re completely written off now,” said McCloskey. “Listen, normally you’d have a fair idea about getting about 18 or 19 points in the Champions Cup and it would be close, but this year who knows?
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“We’ll be trying our best to get towards 15 points and see how it goes from there. If not we’ll still be fighting to get into the Challenge Cup as well,” he added.
“Whatever happens we’ll be looking to win every game and progress as far as we can in whatever tournament we’re playing in.”
Ulster have reached the quarters in the Champions Cup the last two seasons and McCloskey is hoping there is at least something to play for when the competition returns after the Christmas and new year interprovincial derbies.
“It’s a bit different there are no fans here now, but when there are fans European games are massive and you always get a full stadium,” he said.
“It’s one you look forward to, hearing that Champions Cup music played before the games and it’s a different vibe.
Two of Ulster’s three tries against Toulouse came from driving mauls and McCloskey was happy to add his weight to them to drive Rob Herring over on both occasions.
“I enjoy it, me and Jacob ( Stockdale), we knew if we got close to the line, if we could put some extra weight in, both of us would be heavy enough big lumps.
“The forwards always say the more weight the better, so it was good.”