Friday 18 January 2019

O'Sullivan: Ulster must front up to Racing pack

Eric O’Sullivan. Photo: Sportsfile
Eric O’Sullivan. Photo: Sportsfile

Jonathan Bradley

Ulster's Eric O'Sullivan may be new to the pro game but the young prop knows that his side must "front up" if they are to topple European heavyweights Racing 92 in tomorrow's key Champions Cup encounter at Kingspan Stadium (3.15).

The eagerly-anticipated clash will go a long way to deciding who and how many emerge from Pool 4 to make the last eight.

And while it's Simon Zebo, Finn Russell and the rest of Racing's backs that may get all the attention, O'Sullivan is under no illusions that the battle starts with the two forward packs.

Enjoying "Obviously they have a very big forward pack so very important that we front up," he said. "Then obviously they have great backs like Finn Russell, Simon Zebo. They just look to be really enjoying themselves out there on the pitch so it's very important that we get our roles right up front in the forward pack.

"We need to look after them, then on the back of that we need to respect what they've got."

That O'Sullivan is set to start such a key game for his province is testament to a whirlwind year.

He'd never made a senior outing before September and this time last year was still turning out for Banbridge in the second tier of the All-Ireland League. His form for Ulster has been so good lately however that even Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has taken notice, name-checking the Dublin native at a recent awards ceremony as one of a number to watch.

"It's very flattering but there's a lot of great props in Ireland, well-established guys too," said O'Sullivan.

"So it's just about playing well for Ulster. Hopefully off the back of that in the future, there might be something there for me but for now, my head is firmly on Ulster and putting in good performances here."

Ulster are expected to name both Jacob Stockdale and Marcell Coetzee in their team after overcoming injury.

Irish Independent

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