Wednesday 12 December 2018

Best hopes 'shock' tactics can see Ulster put it up to La Rochelle

Ulster's Rory Best. Photo: Sportsfile
Ulster's Rory Best. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Sadlier

Rory Best wants Ulster to hit La Rochelle with shock and awe tactics for their crunch European Champions Cup pool game at the Kingspan Stadium tomorrow.

The Ulster and Ireland skipper has demanded that the misfiring province produce a vintage European performance to down the current Pool One leaders and take charge of the group heading into next weekend's final round of games ahead of the knockout stages.

After a pretty dismal festive period in the Guinness PRO14, Best is looking for Ulster to rediscover their recent European form - when they defeated Harlequins in December's back-to-back games - and revitalise their ailing season.

"We've got to shock them with how tough it's going to be come to Belfast," said Best, who returned from injury for last weekend's heavy defeat to Leinster in Dublin.

"For us it's about making sure that we dictate things and we don't wait and see how much they get into the game. We've got to go in and test where they are.

"Our European season is at crunch time now. We are in a good position in this competition and we need to carry that on now," adds the hooker who was involved in his first game of his injury-hit season when La Rochelle ran away with the game in October's corresponding fixture.


Right now he has to gather himself and his troops as they attempt to emulate Wasps earlier in the campaign by taking the powerful French side down.

"That is what we're focusing on now," said Best. "And, while our season as a whole isn't in the balance on Saturday, our European season is at crunch time now.

"So you lose this and you're really on the back foot and you're asking yourselves to go to Wasps and get a result and hope that other things go your way," he added of a situation Ulster cannot afford to allow happen regarding potential qualification as a best runner-up.

"It's not where you want to be, and so you keep your destiny in your control as much as you can."

Best admits the six-try defeat at the RDS certainly stung him personally as was unable to stop the blue wave washing over the Ulster defence.

"I think the frustrating thing is that you want to come in as one of the Ireland internationals and as the captain and you want to feel that you make a difference, you want to feel that you lift the place," he said of making it back last weekend from a troublesome ankle infection.

"That was very frustrating for me to come in and then for us to produce probably at times some of our worst rugby."

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