John Cooney aiming to maintain try-scoring run as Ulster welcome Harlequins in European Champions Cup

Ulster's John Cooney.
Ulster's John Cooney.
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John Cooney has scored three tries in his last three games and Ulster have won them all.

The scrum half is putting his rich vein of form down to the work he did during the summer and he’s hoping to keep the run going as Ulster welcome Harlequins to Kingspan Stadium in the Heineken Champions Cup on Saturday afternoon.

“I’m enjoy my rugby at the moment, I have been training since June I feel like I’m halfway through the season at the moment and I feel fresh,” said Cooney.

“Physically I felt great coming back from that pre-season with Ireland and there was a big emphasis on weights and speed, I felt good in the first few games and now I have my fitness throughout the game and I’m enjoying my rugby.

“I am happy with how I’m playing but it is hard to get the full package, so games where I’ve kicked well I’m disappointed with my passing,” he added.

“In games that I’ve ran well I’ve been disappointed with my defence, so it is hard to get that game where you feel happy with every part of your game.

“I came off in the Scarlets game disappointed with my passing but then you watch it back on a Monday and it’s never as a bad as you think it is.

“My mentality is I think I have never played as well as I have did, then I watch it back; I prefer to be like that than thinking coming off ‘you’re the man’.

“I do have high standards and I’m just trying to get better.”

Not making Joe Schmidt’s Ireland World Cup squad has also been a motivating factor in Cooney’s form.

“Not to even get a game was disappointing.

“At the end of the day if I sit at home feeling sorry for myself it is not going to get me anywhere and I knew it’s how I respond.

“I read a lot of books and one was ‘The Obstacle is the Way’ and it talked about how you respond to things that happen to you.

“At the end of the day it’s your life and if you react in a way that doesn’t help you it’s an important ethos on the way to live.

“For me it was just to get back into an environment I enjoy and to come into (work alongside) players that I love and management staff that I love as well.

“For someone like Dan to be as personable as he is with you as a player I have a good connection with him, he understood I was disappointed but he drives you hard everyday - same with ‘Peely’ and ‘Sops’ as well,” said Cooney.

“It’s an environment I enjoy and in a weird way, I’m nearly happy to be back because I really like it I just put my head down and went back to work.”

The key to victory in tomorrow’s clash could be the battle of the scrum halves as Cooney pits his wits against Quins’ Danny Care, who has won 84 caps for England.

“I look forward to it, I played against him two years ago in the snow and that was a tricky game in those conditions and I enjoyed it,” he said.

“I was fairly up for that one so I got stuck into him a bit and I look forward to playing against him again.

“He is a player who, if you watched him on Sunday against Gloucester, put Cipriani under a lot of pressure and I could see him doing the same and trying to come for me and Billy this weekend.

“It’s going to be a great game - I look forward to playing him.”