Ulster are putting away day blues behind them insists Franco Van der Merwe

Ulster lock Franco Van der Merwe (right)
Ulster lock Franco Van der Merwe (right)

Franco Van der Merwe is relishing the chance to bounce straight back after last week’s defeat away at Edinburgh.

Ulster host the Cardiff Blues at Kingspan Stadium on Friday night and after losing two of their first four games the South African lock knows victory is imperative.

“That was a big disappointment for us and we didn’t play well. Hats off to Edinburgh they put in a good performance and unfortunately we didn’t play to our potential,” said van der Merwe.

“What’s nice about this 15 or 16 games is that you’re playing every weekend and it’s not stop-start like it was during the World Cup, you play one it’s off and then you play two and it’s the same.

“But we are looking forward to this run of games and it’s going to be interesting how we’re managed during the season.

“Whenever we play at the Kingspan there is a lot of confidence and we know we’re good at home.

“The crowd is unbelievable and there is a lot of atmosphere.

“I can list a lot of excuses why we lose when we play away but it’s up to the players to perform better when we’re away.

“We need to get the mind set right and the responsibility to the player’s right, I can’t give excuses, it’s up to the players to perform when we go away.

“It’s always nice to think you can go out the next week and improve on what you’ve done or just prove that you’re not a bad side and hopefully we can do it this week.”

Van der Merwe feels Ulster need to work on their line out ahead of the match with the Welsh region.

“It’s not good enough just to win a lineout, it’s what happens after that and the rolling maul last weekend just wasn’t good enough.

“We had an opportunity to win the game but we didn’t even get close to the score so that’s one thing we’ve definitely worked hard on this week and hopefully we can go well this Friday with the maul.”

Ulster are five points off the top four after the opening four games but having played with the Lions in South Africa van der Merwe knows it’s far from a crisis.

“There will be negativity from the outside, there will be people saying this and that about the team and there will be articles saying this and that about the team and that is the media’s right.

“It’s probably how it’s supposed to be but as a team you can’t look into the negativity and you can only control what you can control and that’s looking as what you have to do as an individual and as a team.

“So the more we focus on just ourselves that’s what’s important at the end of the day and slowly building into something for the players for the end of the season.”

Ulster have not used the same pair of locks in consecutive matches so for this season and with 16 games on the bounce van der Merwe thinks that trend is unlikely to change.

“We’d been working on this pre-season and we’ve got a system where there is a bit of rotation where it’s Dan, Lewis or myself, or Peter, or Alan or whoever comes in.

“Everyone knows their roles very well so it does make it a little bit easier.

“I’m in my second season now and it would have been a little different if this had been my first but coming into the second season everyone hopefully knows their roles.

“So whenever we go into say the 15th or 16th games we need to have been able to rotate everyone and be sure they can do the job, added Van der Merwe.