Luke Marshall knows Toulouse will Ulster offer tougher challenge at home

Ulster centre ''Luke Marshall
Ulster centre ''Luke Marshall

With having to play Toulouse on Sunday after routing them 38-0 the celebrations may have been slightly muted from inside the Ulster camp but Luke Marshall was delighted to beat the four times European champions.

“Games like that and nights like that you have to enjoy and that was what Rory (Best) said to us after,” said Marshall.

“We have a big job to do this week, last week we enjoyed and savoured it but it will be a totally different challenge this week.

“They will be really hurting after that defeat, we didn’t let them play much but they didn’t get to show what they are really about and I’m sure they will be looking to do that this week, we’re going to have to take it up another step to get the win this week.”

As well as not allowing them to score Ulster stopped Toulouse from making a single line break and had a 93% tackle completion rate and Marshall hailed the impact of the defence.

“You can definitely see the improvement. Joe (Barakat) coming in at the start season his systems were slightly different to what Jonny (Bell) had in place last year so it took a bit of time to get up to the pace of it and now we are seeing the fruits of our labour to keep a team like Toulouse scoreless and they really didn’t trouble us too many during the game and the hard work is paying off.

“Les is still letting Joe do his thing, Les is overseeing everything and I think he has had a massive effect overall and even just his presence coming back guys have upped their game naturally wanting to impress him.

“He brings a really intensity with his attention to detail in our play and guys knowing their jobs and it has definitely helped.

“Even our intensity at training, we don’t train for too long but the sessions are intense and to the point and that has definitely helped things.”

Toulouse have the most offloads in Europe this season while Ulster have the fewest - although it is important to remember the Irish Province have played a game less.

“I think Toulouse can change it up, you look at their team sheet and they have serious quality across the park, they have a great set of backs if they want to play a wide game or equally if they want to throw it up their jersey they have big men.

“We knew going into the game last week offloading is their big strength and worked on blocking the offload channel and locking up the ball and I think it paid off.

“For us I don’t know if it’s the conditions depending on if it is a bit wet we don’t offload as much but I think we can if it’s on.

“Last week we probably played as expansively as we have this season and I’m sure offload opportunities will start to open out if we continue to play like that, we’re not going to force things this week but we’re not going to go into our shell.”

Rarely the second game in the back to backs resembled what happens in the first.

“It’s tough because to have such a good performance there is always the chance of getting over confident which against a side like Toulouse would be dangerous because they are so good.

“We know they are unbeaten at home in all competitions and it will be a massive challenge but the guys know what they are up against.

“What helps is the bookies and the papers still have Toulouse as favourites and nobody is really expecting us to win over there which is good for us we’re underdogs and that is the way we’d like to be and our feet are firmly on the ground.”

Connacht were the last Irish side to win in Stade Ernest-Wallon back in 2013.

“That day Toulouse really under estimated Connacht and Connacht played really well. We have to go out and play the same way we did last week I think it will be a lot tighter and if we are to beat them it mightn’t come until the 78th or 79th minute.

“We just have to take the self confidence and belief from last week into the game.”

Marshall is forming a formidable midfield partnership with Stuart McCloskey and after scoring tries last Friday both were named in French newspaper Midi Olympique European team of the week.

“It’s definitely nice to get recognition over there but for me and Stuart it’s probably a bit early in our careers to be thinking about a French move,

“We are getting a bit of an understanding between us, it helps with the guys around us, Paddy (Jackson) at 10 running the show nicely, and I don’t need to say too much about Ruan at No9 and outside we have a formidable back three and having that quality helps and we’re working well together.”