Ravenhill favourite Howe lashes 'shambolic' Ulster
Ulster will be without international prop Tom Court for Saturday night's must-win Magners League game against Cardiff Blues at Ravenhill after he suffered a slight neck injury.
Ulster are hurtling towards the nether regions of the Magners League with Connacht fancying their chances of eliminating the northerners from Heineken Cup qualification, as just eight points separate the teams.
And they go into Saturday night's encounter with the stinging criticism of former Ravenhill favourite Tyrone Howe ringing in the squad's ears.
"The only adjective that could be used to describe Ulster's performance is shambolic," said the former Ireland and Lions winger. "If you are happy taking praise when things are going well, then you have to take it on the chin when you seriously under perform, and a harsh dose of reality is needed. How has it felt as a supporter watching these last two games?
"At best, it has been like an endurance test of epic proportions, at worst it has felt like a complete waste of a Friday night sitting down in front of the TV to support your team.
"The line-out was a shambles. The defensive line was breached too easily and far too often, particularly close to the breakdown, with an unacceptable number of missed tackles. Self-discipline, or rather the lack of it, seems to be a perennial problem with players not learning from their mistakes.
"It is hard to believe that Ulster is the same team that just over two months ago registered its first away victory in England in the Heineken Cup. Since missing out on qualification for the knock-out stages, the intensity and attitude has taken a worrying dip.
"There were so many deficient areas that it remains to be seen whether they can all be addressed in the space of one week. The team has been stuffed by the two sides who occupy seventh and ninth positions."
He added: "The season is not over, people still pay money to support, and the players owe it to themselves to take more pride in their individual and collective performance. The first 10 minutes on Saturday will show whether the team is up for it or not."