PRO14 RUGBY: Thomond holds no fears for Ulster’s Andy Warwick

Ulster prop Andy Warwick
Ulster prop Andy Warwick

Prop Andy Warwick is closing in on 100 caps for Ulster after making his debut during the 2013/14 season.

In only his third start for the province Warwick experienced a victory at Thomond Park as a weakened Ulster beat a Munster side containing the likes of Paul O’Connell and Simon Zebo 19-17.

That was Ulster’s last victory in Limerick and they have suffered three narrow defeats since, Warwick is hoping for a win on Saturday as Jono Gibbes side try to make the PRO14 playoffs.

Ulster need to win with a bonus point and hope Edinburgh get no match points against Glasgow to finish third in Conference B.

“I think it has always been close when I have played there, we have won one when we sent down a weakened team a few years and we managed to turn them over,” recalled Warwick.

“I played tighthead that day and I was up against Dave Kilcoyne and it was a big test as I’m not a natural tighthead but I move over there sometimes.”

“It is good to go into this week with something to fight for be we have to rely on other results but we’ll be going all out.”

“We’ll not be playing 7s but we’ll go through our plays and see how it goes.”

Munster are guaranteed to finish second in Conference A and are coming off a European Champions Cup semi defeat against Racing 92 last Sunday.

“They’ll be looking to bounce back from last week I’m sure and we’ll be preparing to face their full team.”

“It’s going to be a really physical game and they will try to dominate you at the set piece and they are a big mauling side.”

Warwick could be facing John Ryan or Stephen Archer.

“I have played a few games against them, they are international props and they are not to be messed with and I’ll be up with it.”

After a disappointing defeat at Cardiff Ulster have won their last three games.

“We talked after, Cardiff wasn’t great and we tried to draw a line in sand and I think we have done that a done well.”

“Bestie sat us down and we had a real hard look at ourselves and told us a few home truths.

“It’s been a big boost and we haven’t won three on the bounce since the start of the year it is good to have the confidence.”

Warwick has started six of Ulster’s last seven games and came of the bench in the other and it’s the hard work in training that is paying off.

“Every week it is my set piece, I have to get my ruck time better getting their earlier and help out the ball carriers, I’ve tried to get ball carries.”

Warwick feels teenage prop Tom O’Toole has handled the Pro14 with aplomb.

“At 19 I was playing against Ballynahinch 2s, he has been going really well and has really impressed in training.”

Ulster’s winning run has coincided with Rory Best’s return from Six Nations duty.

“All three hookers are really good in the scrums, Bestie is pretty experienced and if you are getting a hard time he’ll talk to you and keep you right.”

p Ulster Rugby will host Uruguay in a special fixture at Kingspan Stadium on Friday, November 9 (7.30pm kick off), and tickets are now on sale.

The fixture against ‘Los Teros’, who are currently ranked 18th in the world, will be Ulster’s first against international opposition since the visit of Portugal to Belfast in November 2008.

For the Uruguayan team, it will be another key fixture as they continue their preparations for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.