Ton up for Ulster’s Alan O’Connor

Alan O’Connor will be the latest Ulster player to notch up 100 caps when he leads the side out to face Leinster in the Pro14 derby at the RDS tonight.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 20th December 2019, 9:17 am
Ulster Rugby's Alan O'Connor. Picture By: Arthur Allison/ Pacemaker.
Ulster Rugby's Alan O'Connor. Picture By: Arthur Allison/ Pacemaker.

O’Connor captains Ulster as they look for their second win in 20 years in Dublin to close the gap in Conference A on Leinster and he will start with his brother David in the second row for the first ever time in a competitive match.

“It will be pretty cool,” said O’Connor.

“It’s not really that special in that kind of sense ( achieving 100 caps in his own city) that is where I was born, that is where my family is but I think I have been so lucky to play for this club and to play 100 games is class,

“So that is the way I am looking at it, not where it is or anything.

“It will be more important as to who the guys I am running out with on the day and you have to appreciate those moments and enjoy them.

“We will be looking to eat up the gap they have created for themselves and hopefully give them their first loss at home, that would be good.”

There have been a few highlights for O’Connor in his first 99 appearances.

“Toulouse winning back to back is pretty cool,” he said.

“We hammered them at home and beating them away there was pretty good, that would be one of them, beating any of the other Irish teams is always good.”

Leinster have won all 11 games this season and the RDS is one of the toughest venues to visit in European Rugby.

“I do not know the last time they lost there, maybe Scarlets three or four years ago,” said O’Connor.

“I think they drew against Treviso last year, it is obviously a bit of a fortress for them.

“We cannot be thinking about them too much, we have to get out there with our game.

“We have our game that we pride ourselves on and we do not want to talk about them too much because that is not what we are fussed about.

“We are fussed about getting our own stuff right and then we will deal with them after that.

“One of the main things for us this week will be the set piece and making sure we are going after them there.

“With all the young guys who played last year, they are a year older a year more experienced,

“Like last year we had to bleed a lot of players in and I think if we are going down with the similar sort of group of fellas.

“I think we are in with a good shot this time, especially because we beat them here with a similar group that played down there.

“I think we definitely have a good shot when we get the core things right and we can bring the extra stuff in after that.”

Ulster travel to Dublin with five consecutive wins.

“The first inter-pro this year against Munster away I think we did play really well,” said O’Connor.

“And we actually did play well apart from one or two big moments and those moments let us down and them scoring that try and maybe letting us down with a bit of discipline as well.

“If we go down with the mentality that we did about attacking them in defence attacking them when we have the ball,

“That is the attack mentality that we need to bring, I think we would be in a good place.”

Ulster squad:

(15-9) Rob Lyttle, Craig Gilroy, Matt Faddes, Angus Curtis, Angus Kernohan, Bill Johnston, David Shanahan.

(1-8) Andrew Warwick, Adam McBurney, Tom O’Toole, David O’Connor, Alan O’Connor (Capt.), Matthew Rea, Nick Timoney, Greg Jones.

Replacements: John Andrew, Kyle McCall, Ross Kane, Jack Regan, Azur Allison, Jonny Stewart, Stewart Moore, Ethan McIlroy.