For Ulster last Saturday’s win over Oyonaax proved to be their final European game of the season and for No8 Nick Williams it was his last taste of the Champions Cup in a white shirt as he’ll leave Belfast for Cardiff in the summer.
The Polynesian powerhouse gave a man of the match display but the personal accolade meant nothing to him as Ulster were eliminated.
“It was all in vain at the end of the day,” said an emotional Williams, adding: “I love playing with this club and it has rekindled my love for the game and I always be forever grateful to them.
“But I’m still here for another three months and I’ll be doing the best I can to make it a successful season and hopefully help Ulster qualify for the Champions Cup next season.
“It just seemed to work for me and my family here and unfortunately for reasons out of my control people have to move on.
“We did all we could do on Saturday afternoon and unfortunately results didn’t go our way, we probably didn’t help ourselves earlier in the season but there is always a silver lining and that is we just get to concentrate on the PRO12 and the next six weeks is going to be huge for us.”
Ulster return to domestic duty on Saturday with a trip to Treviso who are bottom of the league and have lost their last 25 matches in all competitions but Williams who spent two years in Italy with Aironi knows they will be targeting Les Kiss’s men.
“They will know we have lost a few players to the international set up. And that is a good reason for them to target the likes of ourselves as we supposedly won’t be as strong as we would if we did have the boys.
“That will be the mentality and that was the mentality when I was in Italy. This is their window of opportunity to get wins against some teams without their internationals.
“If we put up our hand up in the first 10 minutes and the first quarter I’ll be backing us to do a good job on them.
“Treviso are a tough outfit and the Italians have a proud culture and they are not going to let us run all over them. They are going to put up a good fight like any team will, it’s just a matter of us doing our basics and doing them well and then hopefully capitalise on all the good things we do and hopefully there is more good things than bad and just build on the momentum we got against Oyonnax.
“It’s going to be a good challenge without the international boys this is the opportunity for boys to put their hands up.
“We know if we don’t play up to par that’s what is going to happen we have been in that position before and won’t take anything for granted.”
Ulster are sixth in the table having lost five of their 11 games and have little room for error.
“Les has spoken about that, come the back end of the season we don’t want to be drawing with other teams on the same points because it will come down to points for and against or wins.
“We just want to maintain what we did against Oyonnax score more points than the other team and restrict them to the less points as possible.”
With seven players on Ireland duty the likes of John Donnan and John Andrew are set to be included in the squad.
“That’s the one thing that Les has brought to the Ulster environment is giving the young lads a bit of a craic so when it comes to times like when the internationals are away they will be able to slot in with a lot of ease.”
“It’s going to be exciting as you’ll see fresh talent that you haven’t seen before and there is going to be old mixed in with the new.
“I’ll be looking forward to it and ensuring I do what I have to as well to help them.”
Williams has been impressed by the performances of fellow Kiwi and back row Sean Reidy.
“Sean is your typical seven very rugged dog like mentality, it’s always good when you see a fellow team mate and countryman doing that well, I think Reidy has definitely taking the most of his opportunities with Chad being out at the moment injured they are big shoes to fill I think he has done an excellent job just not against Oyonnax but I thought he was statistically are best player against Saracens away.”