Ulster scrum coach: every man must step up to Leinster challenge

Ulster Rugby's scrum coach, Aaron Dundon
Ulster Rugby's scrum coach, Aaron Dundon

Scrum coach Aaron Dundon has warned Ulster they cannot afford any passengers when they travel to the RDS for an interpro clash with Leinster on Saturday evening.

After the worst display of the season which led to 44-16 defeat in Connacht, Ulster produced another abject first half performance against Munster on Monday which saw them trail 17-0 at the break.

Four second-half tries earned Ulster a bonus point victory but Dundon knows they won’t be able to give his former club a head start in Dublin and expect to win.

“We’ve had spectators the last few week,” explained the Kiwi, “We have to go down to the RDS with aggression. We’ve got to want to play, go at them, bring that physicality that has been missing for the last game and a half. They are a class outfit. You don’t know who they are going to play they have so many available to them so we have got to turn up down there, otherwise it’s going to be another poor result.

“As a player, like playing Leinster, you should already have the attitude to play these big games. You’re playing against the guys, your international team mates, your fellow country-men. You should have that already for big inter-pros but as a coach, we can drive a lot more, make it more competitive, the training and stuff.

“That was one of the biggest disappointments for me over the last week and a half, the attitude. We didn’t show up and that was the biggest disappointment but look, the second half against Munster we brought it, we showed it, a lot of fight, and that’s what we’re going to need this weekend.”

Ulster are eight points behind the Pro14 Conference B leaders, Leinster, and have only won once in Dublin since 1999 but Dundon played 49 times for the RDS based outfit and knows the mind set it will take to beat them.

“They treat an inter-pro up there with Europe,” he added, “They want to win every inter-pro, they take extra pride in winning their home and away inter-pros. It is a competition outside of the competition that they want to win and they pride themselves in doing that.

“I would say, looking at our last two games, they will back themselves to win it and rightly so, there is no bigger game than playing one of the best teams in Europe at the minute on their own patch.

“It’s an added incentive for us and hopefully we go down with a bit of bite, a bit of purpose. Hopefully we go down with 23 guys who want to play.”

Ulster’s scrum gave away a penalty try against Munster and the Limerick side’s other two tries came from driving mauls of line-out ball and Dundon is expecting another tough night at the coal-face in Dublin, especially as British Lions props, Jack McGrath and Tadgh Furlong, are likely to return to Leinster’s starting line up.

“Obviously they scrum a lot differently player to player. Generally they have the same kind of plan, with each player obviously having different strengths and weaknesses, strong front row, probably similar to the last time they played us, Jack and Tadhg and probably Tracey or Cronin.

“You know it’ll be a good battle for us. Scrum-wise, we fixed what we needed to in the second half against Munster but we can’t wait 40 minutes to make the changes and fix them so it will be good to see the boys’ response this weekend against another strong scrum.”

Despite Munster’s dominance up front during the first half on New Year’s Day, Dundon felt it was the right decision to start Kyle McCall and Rodney Ah You who were both coming back from long injury lay-offs.

“Yeah, it could have been a risk but for me we needed to get those two boys fit for this weekend and for the two European games coming up because the guys are too important to how we play.

“I thought we needed to give them game-time. They struggled a bit but they will be better for it and in the three games coming up.”