Ireland out half Paddy Jackson wants to finish the European Champions Cup campaign on a high by putting on a show for the Kingspan faithful with a big performance against Bordeaux in the final pool game on Saturday.
Ulster are out of the competition but there is a lot riding on the game for Jackson in what will be his last appearance before the Six Nations and he hopes to mastermind a victory which would snap Ulster’s three game losing sequence and build confidence ahead of the PRO12 resumption.
“For me, we want to show the fans and as a player group we have to show ourselves what it means to us, I’ve definitely seen it in training,” said Jackson.
“By no means have these losses been a lack of effort or anyone not trying. It’s been a few technical things that haven’t worked for us.
“The frustrating thing is we have been showing how good we can be in parts of games but we haven’t put it together.
“We’ve possibly switched off and let other teams back in.”
“I think a performance is what we want and obviously the win. I believe if we perform, the win will come. It’s tough at the moment, off the back of a few defeats and not qualifying for the quarters.”
“We’ve met as a player group, and management, and we’ve had a few things to look at, a few harsh words among ourselves and there’s been a good reaction.
“To be honest where we want to see the reaction is on the pitch this weekend.
“The way we’ve trained this week, I think that’s what we’re going to get.”
“I think the league is the focus now. It’s massive for us as a squad. That’s why this game is so important, so that we can get a bit of momentum and get back on the horse.”
“Our sights are firmly set on that top four, the ambition in this club is still there.”
Out of Europe, sixth in the PRO12 and only four wins from the last 12 games has seen Ulster’s season go into free fall but Jackson is confident the side can bounce back and challenge for the domestic league title.
“The three losses in a row is something we’ve sat down as a player group and something we’ve looked at internally.
“We’re keeping it to ouselves but I think it’s only going to be positive for the rest of the season.”
“There’s pressure among ourselves. There’s guys who aren’t even involved but want to help.
“They’re pushing for places, I think there’s definitely been a step up, competitively, on both sides of the ball we’re really pushing each other.”
“We put pressure on ourselves, we don’t really listen to much outside the squad, there’s nobody more frustrated than us.”
“On the pitch, and after the game, you can be sure that there’s nobody more annoyed than us.”
Jackson is paired again at half back with Dave Shanahan and he was impressed with the Ballymena pivot’s European debut at Exeter last week.”
“I thought it went well, he gets in and gets the ball away quickly.
“I think he’s a real nippy scrum-half, he got a couple breaks and I think for his first start I think I was very impressed.”
Jackson feels it is only a matter of time before Ulster convert the chances they are creating.
“There’s a lot we aren’t finishing which as a ten is very frustrating, the exciting thing is that there are those opportunities, guys are getting there, they’re getting their lines right, it’s when we get multi-phases we lose a bit of shape.”
“We’ve looked at it and it’s something we really have to step up coming into the final run in of the season.”