Ulster v Southern Kings: players must do better - O’Connor

Lock Alan O’Connor is hoping Ulster can forget the misery of the last month by beating the Southern Kings at Kingspan Stadium tomorrow night.

Defeat at Leinster in their last Pr014 game has allowed Edinburgh to close the gap on Ulster to three points in Conference B, defeat at Wasps meant elimination in the group stages of Europe and Director of Rugby Les Kiss parted company with the team last week.

Ulster's Alan O'Connor in action against Harlequins

Ulster's Alan O'Connor in action against Harlequins

“Obviously there is a lot going on but you have just got to put your business hat on and just try and take every session as it comes, you really can’t read too much into things or you would go crazy, so just keep the head down,” said O’Connor.

The second row paid a glowing tribute to Kiss

“Les and Ulster felt it was the right time to go, I have nothing but good things to say about Les.

“Les gave me my first start and he was always very good to me when he first came in and he’ll leave a big hole.

“It was definitely a surprise, we were as surprised as everybody else. I had no problem with Les. I know we weren’t performing up to the standards of the fans and not to get through to the last eight in Europe puts pressure on other people and unfortunately Les felt like it was time to go.

“Les came in and addressed the team so it was nice just to say best of luck for the future.”

O’Connor feels the players have to take some responsibility for the recent results and performances.

“Yeah of course we’re the ones out there in between the lines,. If we’re not performing it puts pressure on other people so we have to worry about our own jobs and do them better from now on.”

Despite it being three weeks since bowing out of Europe to Wasps O’Connor is still stung by the defeat in Coventry.

“It was huge, ask any team and they always hope to be in charge of their own destiny coming into the last round, we just weren’t good enough, too many errors, set piece let us down a but as well and that was a tough one to take.”

The Dubliner is hoping the weather can help Ulster on Friday night.

“It’s 30 degrees over there at the minute and hopefully that will be a factor for us.

“They ran us a bit close for comfort over there. The Kings are good they have ran a few good teams close like the Scarlet.They have a good back three, a good aggressive forward pack and being South African they can maul the ball as well. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

“They haven’t won any but that doesn’t mean they are a bad team, they come out and are aggressive, they play with good attitude so we have to make sure we put that doubt into them early and get the win.

Ulster missed out on knockout rugby last season and have eight games remaining to make sure they reach the playoffs this term.

“Just take it game by game, we’re not talking about next season or the end of the season we know we have a big four week block coming up with four important games and if we perform and do the job required in these four weeks we are in with a shout of the playoffs.”