Saturday 19 August 2017

Black urges Ulster pack to 'make a statement'

Callum Black (Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE)
Callum Black (Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE)
David Kelly

David Kelly

Delay does not always deny success but it can certainly test your patience.

Callum Black had to wait 100 appearances for his maiden Ulster try so, you figure, he might not be bothered about waiting just a few weeks more to pick another rare beast, a trophy to bring back to his supporters' pleading hordes in Belfast.

"I'd swap that try for a winners' medal," he says. "I'd swap a lot of things, to be honest with you. . ."

His was a typical prop's effort; a two-metre, wheezing dash - "not usually my area of expertise", confirms the loosehead - against Glasgow in February when Ulster stormed to the top of the table.

Yet when the sides renewed battle just six weeks later, defeat to the champions in Scotland confirmed Ulster's exit from the play-off slots; an impromptu conclave in the aftermath would prove crucial to their subsequent progress.

"We just knew we had to win six games to win the title," reveals the Washington-born Emerging Ireland player.

"It feels like we are peaking at the right time. We've lost big players but anyone who has come into the squad has stepped up to the plate and that gives you real confidence - our bench is having an impact too."

Against Leinster last month, they succeeded in repudiating the power game and there are fears that they may not be so fortunate again this time around, notwithstanding their dismal play-off record.

"We have belief in our pack," Black insists. "We need to front up and to get parity is the absolute minimum. We need to take it to their forwards who are nearly all internationals.

"If we can get that dominance, that lays the platform for the backs. We have to make a statement. It's knock-out rugby. Nothing but our best will do."

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