British Lions winger Tommy Bowe believes Saturday would be the ideal time for Ulster to rediscover their away form as they travel to Dublin for a crucial PRO12 clash with defending champions Leinster.
Ulster have only won once in seven games away from Belfast this season and have only one competitive win against Leinster in Dublin since 1999.
“Leinster have been the best team for the last few years and our record against them hasn’t been great,” accepts Bowe.
“We have been so close to winning competitions and have been knocking on the door.
“Unfortunately we kept coming up against them and that was the end of it for us and that is very frustrating for us as players, supporters and people involved with Ulster Rugby.
“We are very positive about our chances this weekend, I think it is safe to say both sides aren’t playing as good as rugby as they would like to at the minute, they will be hurting from the loss against Munster and we’ll be happy with the win against Connacht and it will be a good game.
“The two teams have been battling it out the last few years, Leinster will be hurting from last week and will want to come out with a big performance this weekend.
“Leinster against Ulster is always a packed house. It’s one, as players, that is not very hard to get up for.”
Bowe spent part of last week in Irish camp with a lot of the Leinster players and admits the surprise factor may be missing on Saturday.
“We know each other very well, and I’d say I’d know every one of their players I’d come up against and vice versa. It’s hard to come up with something new but at the same time it is always brilliant to get one over on the guys you know so well.
“We haven’t had too much luck in doing that over the last couple of years but this is a great opportunity for us and make a big statement for the reason of the season.”
Dave Kearney profited from Bowe’s injury last season as he picked up a Six Nations medal as Ireland claimed the championship, and the two could go head to head at the RDS.
“I thought he played very well in the last Six Nations with Andrew. There are plenty of people who could come in on the wings, Simon Zebo, Craig Gilroy and Fergus McFadden, but the two boys nailed down the wing positions.
“I’ve played against Dave a few times, he likes to get the ball in his hands and is dangerous so I’ll have my work cut out but I’m looking forward to getting a bit of ball myself.”
Ulster’s kicking game hasn’t been up to the mark over the last few games and with Rob Kearney in the Leinster back field Bowe knows it will have to be on the money.
“That is a big thing we will be looking at you can’t go to the RDS and give away cheap possession and we have probably kicked well in the last while.
“That will be something they will be looking at but it is something were are working very hard on to fix.”
Bowe had a great Autumn series with Ireland but knows he still has to perform in the back games to guarantee a Six Nations starting spot.
“There is huge pressure,” he added.
“You are coming up against guyswho are all fighting to get into the Irish set-up and at the same time we are fighting for bragging rights and it is always nice to win an interpro.
“There is an extra bit of spice and it is always one of the games you get excited about.”
Bowe is reading nothing into last weekend’s results when Leinster lost at Munster and Ulster scraped over the line against Connacht.
“We know it is not going to be an easy match,” he said.
“We’re coming off the back of a win which wasn’t pretty but we grounded it out against a Connacht team that like to spoil and came up here with all the intentions to get the win. We’re confident and we have trained well and they are probably as good a sessions that I have been a part of this year, there is a spring in our step at the minute and there is nothing like that going into a big game.”
Bowe sat out the Connacht game under the national management programme.
“You always want to be out there playing in the games,” he added.
“The interpros are the ones you want to be a part of and it’s not often you get Christmas off. I’ve had the last couple off because I’ve been injured, it was nice to have a few days to put the feet up.
“I’ve played a bit of rugby already this year and hopefully going forward I can play a lot of rugby in the coming year so I have to manage body and get myself ready for when the big games come along.”