Saturday 25 November 2017

Muller raring to go for 'massive' Treviso tests

David Kelly

David Kelly

Ulster's formidable second-row leader Johann Muller may not have decided on his long-term future with the province, but his short-term goals are much easier to decipher.

"I'm just so excited for the opportunity to get back on the park to play a bit of rugby," says the skyscraping Springbok ahead of back-to-back Heineken Cup ties against bogey side Treviso.

A calf injury has kept Muller out of the side for more than a month and, with casualties entering double figures for Mark Anscombe's men, his return is vital as Ulster aim to build on this season's impressive start to the Heineken Cup.

"Have I been frustrated? Big time. And not just for me. There have been so many injuries over the past few seasons," said Muller.

"There are a lot of guys struggling at the moment, and I'm so delighted to be back, again.

"These back-to-back games are massive. Treviso are not afraid to come to Ravenhill. They know what it is like to come here. They beat us here two years ago and drew with us last season, so with the number of internationals on their side, they will be very dangerous.

"If you are five or 10pc off your game, the likes of Treviso will punish you severely. There is no doubt they will want to make it a long, difficult afternoon for us.

"But it is all about us and what we can bring to the party. We have had a good week so far, ironed out any problems that occurred last week, and now it is up to us on Saturday to produce our top game."

Treviso have announced that coach Franco Smith will leave this month rather than the end of the season, and it remains to be seen whether his premature departure will have a galvanising effect on his side.

Muller insists that his side must dominate the narrative.

"We may be down roughly about 10 players that you can argue would be our first choice, but it is a great opportunity for other guys to put their hands up while playing in big Heineken Cup games," he said.

"That's the way they play. We are expecting it to be very robust in the forwards.

"They have a really big pack, something like Zebre last week, where we let ourselves down a little.

"We were not as physical as we wanted to be in Parma, as a pack and as a team. It was something that we spoke at length about during the week and we plan to do something about it. We have to."

Irish Independent

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