Ulster v Edinburgh: Hooker John Andrew expecting sterner test

Ulster Rugby's John Andrew
Ulster Rugby's John Andrew
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Hooker John Andrew was happy with how the Ulster lineout functioned against the Southern Kings last weekend and is hoping for more of the same tomorrow night but is expecting more of a test against Edinburgh at home in the Guinness PRO14.

“I think we had 100% (lineout success) as a team, we obviously had a training week the week before which allows you get extra work done and we had a lot of reps with each other, said Andrew.

“Alan O’Connor was calling the lineouts so it gave us a bit of confidence from thrower to jumper if you’d had a lot of reps, we’re happy with it and some of our lineouts were on our five metre line and teams don’t often go up when you’re there as they choose to stay down and defend the maul.

“We were happy with it but we know that Edinburgh are a different outfit at the lineout they have big second rows and back rows so they can get up quite high in ‘D’ so we have to back it up again.”

Alan O’Connor didn’t only captain Ulster against the Kings he also called the lineouts.

“In previous years we’ve had a good lineout and this year we have a good lineout it’s just that perhaps it’s consistency and consistency is doing stuff well over and over again so you only get that by practising.

“You can only get it when you’re playing games as it’s easy to replicate lineouts in training but you’re not doing it in front of a crowd of about 18,000 people.

“Nothing has drastically changed so we’re all working hard at the lineout and we took a good step forward last Frida so we just need to back it up and that’s the consistency we need.”

Ulster are third in Conference B just three points ahead of Edinburgh in the fight for the playoff places.

“Edinburgh are a well-drilled team and since (Richard) Cockerill has come in I think they’ve won something like 80% of their games.

“Edinburgh have always had a really good attitude if they come over or if you go over there, they are physical and want to hit you back and do all the right things.

“Obviously Cockerill has come in and given them a bit of a lift and they’re playing very well so two very different teams but we’re not preparing any differently we didn’t leave any stone unturned against Kings and we’re doing the same this week for Edinburgh.”

Andrew knows the Ulster pack will have to front up especially against a Cockerill coached side.

“I think he likes all his teams to be physical up front and he was like that as a player and at Leicester he had them like that as well.

“People will say that most games are won or lost up front, if you’re not winning your lineout ball and your scrums and dominated in all collisions it’s fairly hard to win a game.”

Andrew has appeared in 12 of Ulster’s 20 games this season including six starts.

“Personally it’s obviously nice, every person training wants to be starting and if you’re not starting you I want to be in the 23 so I got a few more chances earlier this season when Rory had his hamstring injury.

“That gave me a few more opportunities so I just like playing and every opportunity you get you’ve got to play well to try and make it a selection headache for the coaches.”