Ulster’s new forwards coach Roddy Grant is hoping to make some happy memories at Kingspan Stadium, writes Ciaran Donaghy.
The former Edinburgh flanker replaced Aaron Dundon in the close season and he is looking forward to being in the Ulster coaching box for the first time on Saturday for the pre-season game against Glasgow.
“That was another big reason in coming here and why I was looking forward to coming here, of all the venues, or certainly away games, this was always my favourite,” said Grant when asked about the Kingspan Stadium.
“I played here when it had the old terracing and that was awesome, the atmosphere here is incredible.
“It was never hostile or offensive, it was just a really good, proper old rugby club atmosphere.
“It was awesome, If I was ever playing at No.8 and a high ball would come, you’d always get the jeers, but that’s what you want, obviously with the new Kingspan Stadium, it’s awesome, it’s an unbelievable venue to play the best in European rugby and then throw in the atmosphere with it.
“I’ve got a lot of memories here, not many winning ones. but I used to love playing here, and now being a part of it is something I’m really looking forward to.
“My father-in-law was a great rugby player, he’s supported my career through my wife, but I’m really looking forward to having him here and being part of the Ulster community and seeing how much it means to everyone.
“It reminds me a lot of South African rugby but there’s only one team, so it’s almost magnified that everyone knows about it and is more passionate about it and wants to do well.
“It’s very exciting being in such a unique professional sport, it’s crazy to be somewhere so unique and special. It’s awesome.”
The decision for Grant to come to Belfast was an easy one as he explained.
“I’d worked with Dan (McFarland) previously, I was very thankful for the opportunity to work at Edinburgh with him and Cockers (Richard Cockerill), and I’m really looking forward to working with him again,” he said.
“The timing was right for me and my family and a change of environment.
“It is always good to grow as a person and a professional, I felt it was a great time and a good opportunity to move.
“The people of Belfast have been really friendly.
“I came over first and my wife and two kids came over a bit later for school starting. Now everyone’s all here and it’s so far, so good, everyone’s really enjoying it.”
While the result against Glasgow on Saturday won’t be the be all and end all Grant will be securitising the performance.
“You want a clear strategy and to hopefully execute that, and either build on it or keep it as you go,” he said.
“We have to make sure we’re physically at the races, and have physicality in the set-pieces.
“As coaches we have to make sure our planning is spot on.
“What we work on this week, we will work on something different next week, or build on what we have done so that we will be good to go come the Ospreys game and the full season ahead.