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We must not lose run of ourselves -- Ulster chief

WITH just five days to go to their biggest match in 13 years, Ulster chief executive Shane Logan claims the province are only hitting "four or five out of 10" of their potential.

Ulster have enjoyed a remarkable season, reaching their first Heineken Cup final since winning the title in 1999, and optimism is coursing through the province ahead of Saturday's showdown with champions Leinster in Twickenham.

However, Logan is urging caution, warning against the danger of unrealistic expectations. "We can't run away with ourselves," said Logan. Twice previously Ulster have been in a very good position -- we won the European Cup in 1999 and we won the (Celtic) League in 2006 -- and after each (success) there was a decline in performance and a decline financially.

"So, calling on that experience, we have got to guard against thinking that we are better than we are. Across all fronts -- professional, domestic and commercial -- we're only four or five out of 10 compared to where we need to be. If you take our league form, winning 12 and losing 10 isn't a good return," added Logan.

"So, while it's brilliant to be in the final, we're not yet world-beaters, European-beaters or league-beaters. We just need to be careful that we stay grounded and continue to move things, structurally, forward and not lose the run of ourselves.

"Whether or not we win the European Cup, the plan is as was. We have a strategy for the next three to five years to strengthen our hand. We're trying to make sure that we have the best players, coaches, facilities and the best support in terms of medical, strength and conditioning and nutrition.

"Commercially we are moving forward quite well," he added. "Three of our four main sponsors come out of contract at the end of the season and we have renewed or replaced those at a pretty substantial increase.

"Attendances are about on a par with the season before, which is a bit disappointing, although in a World Cup year that's maybe not surprising.

"The interest is there -- 40,000-42,000 people went down to the Aviva for our semi-final against Edinburgh and we'd over 10,000 for our Heineken Cup game against Aironi."

Irish Independent