Herring fishes for answers to end Ulster's inconsistent run of form
Published 04/12/2015 | 02:30
Ulster second-choice hooker Rob Herring became the latest from his province to sign a two-year contract extension this week but like the rest of his side he is demanding an upturn in performances to justify his faith.
"It's a pretty big game for us this week especially in front of our home crowd," said the Irish-qualified 25-year-old South African ahead of tonight's crucial clash against Edinburgh; both teams are locked together below the play-off berths.
"We are in mid-table at the moment and although we are only four points off qualification we're still mid-table and we don't want to be in that position.
"It has been a pretty tough month for us. We improved against Leinster. Our defence is going in the right direction and we maybe missed a few opportunities against them which would have made it a different scoreline.
"I was disappointed to only get five minutes in Leinster but on a personal point of view I'm hoping to get a few good minutes and hopefully stick up my hand every time I play.
"Besides the Saracens game all the games have all been pretty close, we are scoring a lot of tries and we are second in the Pro12 attack with 23 tries and our defence hasn't been too bad either.
"I can't really put a finger on it. There have been a few times we haven't taken out chances. I guess it just boils down to that. Our away from hasn't been great but we have picked up a few points at Munster and Leinster.
"But obviously we want to be winning those games. It adds a little more push pressure but we shouldn't be losing anything at home and I think that is what pushes the guys that bit more and that bit of edge that it brings with it."
Rory Best, who also signed a new two-year deal this week, is rested under the IRFU player management programme and Herring replaces him as skipper.
Luke Marshall, Rory Scholes, Ricky Lutton, Franco van der Merwe, Chris Henry and Roger Wilson also come in with Craig Gilroy rested. Second-row Alan O'Connor could make his first appearance of the season after being included on the bench.
This could prove a pivotal encounter in the race to the play-offs; Edinburgh are playing the better rugby but home advantage could swing this one.
Ulster - P Nelson; A Trimble, D Cave, L Marshall, R Scholes; P Jackson, R Pienaar; K McCall, R Herring (capt), R Lutton, D Tuohy, F van der Merwe, I Henderson, C Henry, R Wilson. Reps: J Andrew, A Warwick, W Herbst, A O'Connor, N Williams, P Marshall, S McCloskey, L Ludik.
Edinburgh - J Cuthbert; D Fife, C Dean, M Scott, W Helu; P Burleigh, S Kennedy; A Dickinson, R Ford, WP Nel, A Bresler, A Toolis, M Coman (capt), J Hardie, C Du Preez. Reps: N Cochrane, R Sutherland, J Andress, J Ritchie, H Watson, N Fowles, M Alllen, B Kinghorn.
Ref - Ian Davies (WRU)
Ulster v Edinburgh, Live, BBC 2, 7.35