Ulster driven to get over the line says Franco van der Merwe

Ulster's ''Franco van der Merwe
Ulster's ''Franco van der Merwe

South African lock, Franco van der Merwe, expects a full out assault from Ulster on Satruday afternoon at the Kingspan Stadium as they look to do the home treble in Irish derbies this season in the Guinness PRO12.

A victory over Munster in Belfast would also boost Ulster’s hopes of securing a home semi-final in the play-offs, leapfrogging their rivals into second place at least going into the final weekend of fixtures in the regular league season.

League leaders Glagow Warriors face fourth placed Ospreys in Swansea on Friday night and if the Welsh region were to win that game it would leave Ulster with the chance to go top of the pile tomorrow.

The various permutations are not something which is concerning van der Merwe or the Ulster team.

The second row forward said: “It is great to be a part of a team doing well at the end of the season, but we just have to focus on playing Munster this weekend.

“It is important not to be getting too far ahead of ourselves and thinking of what might happen this weekend elsewhere or even next week. We cannot be thinking about semi-finals or a final at this stage.

“We gave to make sure we know what our next move is and what we have to do to achieve getting the win over Munster.”

Van der Merwe has become one of the stand out locks in this season’s PRO12 and has played a key role for Ulster in the set piece.

He plays that opinion down slightly citing the fact he managed to avoid injuries as one of the key reasons for being able to get so much game time - he has played in 25 games in all competitions since joining the Province at the start of the season from the Lions.

“When I arrived here for me it was about getting a spot in the team,” said van der Merwe.

“Once I got my first start for Ulster I thought to myself just settle in and that has been going really well and I have been fortunate enough not to have too many big injuries, some others did and hence the reasons why I have had so many games.”

However, with a place in the play-offs secured, van der Merwe is massively motivated and wants to see the team continue in their current form.

“We have been improving and we need to continue that,” he said. “But at this time of the season everyone is fit, the strength is there it is all about getting it right mentally.

“Everyone is fresh with the way the season has been going with a game one week and then a week off, but it is the same for the opposition. We just have to make sure our focus is right.”

This potentially could be Ulster’s last home game of the PRO12 campaign and van der Merwe knows the team can count on the fans to get them over the line.

Tomorrow’s game is another sell out and the Springbok says the Kingspan crowd will have a big part of play.

“It is interesting 16-18000 people here and in South Africa we were playing maybe in front of 40,000 or 60,000. The amount of noise from the Ulster fans is just unbelieveable,

“They just given you that little bit more extra motivation when you are dead tired and your legs cannot go anymore, it is then that the fans really come into their own.

“The SUFTUM (Stand Up For The Ulstermen) song really makes a difference.”