Ulster had produced some last gasp results or dug deep to secure wins at various stages of the season and prop Ross Kane says that ‘never say die’ attitude will be called upon again on Friday night.
The Irish Province go to Scotstoun to face Glasgow Warriors in the first of this weekend’s Guinness PRO14 Championship semi-finals.
The winners of the game in Glasgow will return to the city a week later and face the winners of Leinster v Munster, who play on Saturday, in the Grand Final at Celtic Park (May 25).
Ulster rallied to pick up points at the start of the season when they looked beaten against Scarlets and Edinburgh and more recently against Benetton.
Kane said: “ You can see in quite a few of the games that when push comes to shove we are always fighting in the last minute whether to nail it back for the win or come back to get the draw like we did against Benetton.
“There is a kind of never say die attitude in the team. I do not think anyone is looking at previous records, performances or the negative side of things, everyone if fully focused on the positives and what we need to do.”
Ulster have probably surpassed most people’s expectations, this end of season being in stark contrast to last year when they were fighting for their place in this season’s European Champions Cup.
A loss this weekend would signal the end of the season, but Kane insists that is not the way they are thinking about it.
“I think everyone sees the positives and see the excitement, build-up, crowd and atmosphere,” said Kane who has made 38 appearances for Ulster.
“Everyone is looking forward and everything is about seeing where we get now and then let’s overcome this and see where we are then instead of being worried and what if?
“I feel like that has been the atmosphere in the squad throughout the whole year, we’ve built a really good environment throughout this season and I’d say everyone would say the same thing about the real positive attitude towards every game.”
Ulster produced a below par performance against the Scottish region last month, beaten 30-7.
With Scotstoun being an artificial surface, switching to that has been suggested as a potential disadvantage.
“There are four or five teams now playing on that kind of turf and what we need to do,” said Kane.
“In respect of the scrum it does not change anything tactically. You are still performing the same way that you would be on a grass pitch.
“It is maybe a bit more wear and tear on your toes and your feet, but nothing major.
“I’d say sometimes there is a bit more grip than on the grass which can be good or bad, it’s just a bit different.
“At the end of the day you worry more about the game than the pitch,” added Kane.
For the Ballymena man it has been a case recently of last man standing in terms of fit tighthead props.
And while he has had to play second fiddle to Marty Moore as well as battle with some injuries, Kane feels it has been a good season personally.
“I think it’s been a good season. Yes it’s been tough and obviously Marty has come in and done really well and shown on the pitch that he deserves to be there.
“Me and Tom (O’Toole) have been battling for who’s going to be there and Wiehahn (Herbst) at the start of the season.
“There have been very few injuries on the tight-head side and everyone has been fighting for the two jerseys.
“I feel that brings out the best in everyone but at the same time there will be times you’re disappointed but you’ve got to try and use that to motivate you and take your opportunity when it comes.
Kane added: “I’ve a lot of pride about to take the jersey and put it on and it’s an incredible experience and I feel like you just need to show your worth when you do get the opportunity so I’ve got to take it with both hands.”
Having knockout rugby again is something Kane feels is special.
“Those big knockout games lie alongside the European games in that they add a little bit extra.
“It shows that whenever we perform to that level that’s the kind of level we need to be performing at for the rest of the games so that sets the bar.”