GUINNESS PRO12: Les Kiss has everyone in Ulster on the same page says Nick Williams

Ulster's Nick Williams on the charge against Connacht
Ulster's Nick Williams on the charge against Connacht

Ulster’s powerful number eight Nick Williams has pointed to the arrival of Les Kiss to the Province as being key in the recent revival.

A 10-3 derby Guinness PRO12 win over Connacht in Galway saw Ulster to their fourth straight win.

That victory put them into fourth place in the Guinness PRO12 and right back where they wanted to be at then turn of the year in the race to make the play-offs.

But it was the European Champions Cup double success over Toulouse which really put Ulster’s name back on the radar.

Ulster won 38-0 at Kingspan Stadium against the Top 14 side before going over to France and winning 25-23 to put them right back in the frame for qualification to the knockout stages.

Kiss was appointed director of rugby at the start of November and started his tenure with a win at Newport Gwent Dragons in the PRO12.

But a heavy home loss in the opening European Cup game against Saracens was a major setback while they lost 8-3 away to Leinster .

However, since those defeats, victories over Edinburgh and Connacht in the PRO12 and that double over Toulouse has Ulster in a good place claims Williams.

“It has given confidence. The game against Toulouse the week previous was a see-saw game and against Connacht it was the same.

“To come up trumps in them at the end makes us pretty happy.

“Les has come in and has made a difference, especially in respect of mental toughness.

“He has brought a lot to our game. It is slowly building and it has taken a few weeks.

“I think we are in - and I do not want to blow our own trumpet - a good place at the moment because everybody is on the same page.”

On Saturday afternoon in Belfast Ulster will face Munster.

Munster come to Kingspan Stadium on the back of five straight losses.

Williams, who is expected to start against his former club mates, said: “It is always exciting times when you play over Christmas and New Year because you know these are the derby ones.”

The Polynesian powerhouse will leave Ulster at the end of the season to join Cardiff Blues and said he was sorry to leave.

“It has been special for me in Belfast and I intend to make this a special season for me.

“Next season is next season, I am going to enjoy my remaining time with Ulster.”

Meanwhile, Ireland star Conor Murray is in line to return to the Munster team in Saturday’s Pro12 game against Ulster while Keith Earls could also feature.

Murray missed the defeat by Leinster because of a hip strain while Earls has got the all-clear after sustaining a neck injury in Sunday’s game.

Munster will definitely be without prop James Cronin who picked up an ankle injury in the Leinster game.

BJ Botha is expected to be available for Munster after recovering from flu.

The 24-7 reverse against Leinster was Munster’s fifth successive defeat in all competitions and Anthony Foley’s side need to arrest that slide after dropping to sixth in the Pro12 table.

Andrew Conway (bruised hip) and Francis Saili (bruised calf), Dave Foley (leg) and Jack O’Donoghue (leg) missed Tuesday’s Munster training session after picking up knocks in Sunday’s game are all expected to be available for the Belfast contest.

Ireland wing Earls was put in a neck brace as he was carried off late in the first half of the Leinster game but x-rays have revealed no major damage and his fitness will be monitored throughout this week.