RUGBY: Robbie Diack quite content in Ulster’s engine room

Cheetahs' Niell Jordaan tackled by Rodney Ah You and Robbie Diack
Cheetahs' Niell Jordaan tackled by Rodney Ah You and Robbie Diack

Robbie Diack is enjoying his move from the back-row into the engine room of the Ulster pack.

Diack has started Ulster’s two Guinness PRO14 wins at lock and is set to start in the second row against defending champions the Scarlets at Kingspan Stadium on Friday night.

“I’ve enjoyed it, I started the last two games in the second-row, I played a bit there last year and thoroughly enjoyed it then but now I can see myself staying there,” said Diack.

“Last year I was a back-row who could cover second row and now I’m a second-row who can cover back-row if needed, I’ve learnt a lot from Jono (Gibbes) in pre-season and these last couple of games.

“There’s a huge amount of growth there for me but it’s an exciting role and I feel like I can give the team a bit of energy and hopefully with experience I can add value.”

“I think obviously you’re expected to hit a few more rucks (in second row), maybe not carrying and mauling as much.

“I think with the game we play, and world rugby in general, every player is meant to be a ball player so I think, maybe it’s holding your width, hitting a few more rucks, maybe a bit more of the dirty work.

“It’s a great role to be involved in, I’m thoroughly enjoying it.”

The transition for Diack has been made easier with the help of Gibbes.

“He hasn’t come and try to reinvent the wheel but he has picked up certain aspects of my game and the forward pack and he has really fine-tuned us in a certain way.

“He has picked up things that we never thought were relevant and when you look back they are extremely relevant to the way we play and the way we train and he has got us into very good habits in training.

“With his expertise in the backrow and second row has been hugely beneficial to myself and other players and we have learned a huge amount from him.”

Ulster have nine points from their first two games but they were two very different performances.

“Against the Cheetahs we were expecting a fiercely fast game with the pace in their team, the back line was star studded with 7s players and even their forwards were extremely explosive and versatile and I think a lot of the tries we conceded were from kicks where the bounce of the ball went against us.

“We want to play that expansive and exciting game of rugby but it didn’t come off that way in Treviso, a couple of years ago going to Italy and getting a bonus point win was a given but I don’t think that is the case anymore.”

“People say we are disappointed by not getting the bonus point yes we are but we are delighted to get a win, to go there and get a win against a team that has recruited well over the summer, they have got a lot of New Zealanders that have come into their team and added a huge amount of experience and we can move forward from that and learn.”

The Scarlet arrive in Belfast top of Conference B having score 98 points in their two bonus point wins.

“We’ve looked at the Scarlets, we have looked at their games from the end of last season and the start of this season, watching the Kings game that play such and exciting brand of rugby and they are the team on form and with a lot of confidence.

“Them coming here is going to be a real test for us as players to see where we are within this league, we’ve looked at their first two games against the Kings and Zebre in depth and we have had a hard look at ourselves and what we can improve on and hopefully we can lift it.”