It doesn’t get any easier for Ulster after facing the tour de force that was La Rochelle last Sunday Ulster return to Pro14 action by welcoming Irish rivals Leinster to Kingspan Stadium tomorrow night.
Leo Cullen’s side won both their European games with a bonus point but Ulster sit above Leinster in Conference B on points difference and the last eight meetings between the sides have all be won by the home team.
With it being the last hit out before the Ireland players go into camp for the autumn internationals Ulster full back Charles Piutau is expecting a fully load Leinster side.
“The history Leinster have, and even this season they’ve shown what they can do, they’re on a high coming in from the European Cup with two bonus (point) wins, so what bigger challenge and what better team to play this week than them,” said Piutau.
“The coaches are putting together a plan and us as players, we’ll try and execute that, Leinster have a very dangerous back line, dangerous team, I think they’re great as a team in the forward pack, they get good go forward, hoping we can stop that.”
As a Kiwi Piutau feels the special buzz when it comes to a big Irish derby.
“You do notice in the build up that it’s a big week and for a lot of the players they know players in the other team really well as they’ve played together internationally for many years and even on game day there’s more passion shown by the crowd knowing that its neighbours coming over to your home.
“Challenges like this you don’t need to say much or do anything, it’s part of our desire and passion to go out this week and play against a good rival.
“It’s always special playing here at Kingspan in front of our home crowd, it’s nice to have their backing.”
The former All Black is expecting Ulster to bounce back from the defeat in La Rochelle.
“It hurts a lot, in times when you’re under the posts and trying to regather things and figure out how to change momentum, as much as it hurts, I think it makes you stronger as a team having gone through a tough time like that, and we’re hoping we can turn that around.
“I think we put in a good fight for about 50 minutes but then some individual errors let us down, and against good teams they make you pay for it and La Rochelle converted them into points.”
Piutau and Jacob Stockdale were instrumental in Ulster’s recent victories over Connacht and Wasps and the Kiwi is backing the Irish winger to add to his two international caps.
“You all see him playing out there how talented he is and how exciting it is every time he touches the ball, I’m very happy for Jacob and I definitely see a very bright future ahead for him, not only in this club but maybe internationally.”
“He’s a great student of the game, he does his preparation well and is always ready to play, he brings a lot of excitement.”