Sunday 25 February 2018

'World-famous' Ulster can take down Tigers on own patch - Diack

Robbie Diack
Robbie Diack

Niall Crozier

Robbie Diack, Ulster's barnstorming blindside flanker, has no doubts that he and his colleagues are more than capable of going to Welford Road and upstaging Leicester Tigers in this weekend's Heineken Cup showdown.

In early October he signed a three-year contract extension, thereby committing himself to Ulster until June 2017. He did so for the simple reason that all the evidence points to progress on and off the park.

He speaks confidently about Ulster's prospects of landing silverware between now and the date on which his new contract expires. Indeed, he speaks confidently about the province's chances of winning a trophy this season.

"Everyone says you've got to be involved in a couple of finals before you win one," the big Irish-qualified South African points out.

EXPERIENCE

"Well, we have been involved in two in the past two seasons (the Heineken Cup and Pro12 finals against Leinster) so hopefully that has been our learning experience."

If Ulster are to go all the way to this season's Heineken Cup final at the Millennium Stadium on May 24, they can ease their route to Cardiff somewhat by beating Leicester on Saturday (6.00).

Victory would guarantee Mark Anscombe's side a home quarter-final -- and it's a huge motivating force for Diack.

"I don't think it gets any more exciting than having to go to Welford Road and trying to win to get a home quarter-final," he enthuses. "To get a home quarter-final at Ravenhill would be ideal."

Such is the interest in Ulster rugby back in his native land that Diack knows many South Africans will be tuning in to see how they get on against the English champions.

He explains: "When I go back to South Africa, people are talking about Ulster. Ruan Pienaar could have gone to any club in the world, but he has decided to stay here for another three years. That is a huge boost for Ulster rugby.

"Johann Muller, Ruan, BJ Botha and Pedrie Wannenburg are the more high-profile South Africans who moved to the northern hemisphere and that automatically links up with Ulster.

"Stefan Terblanche came here two years ago, so people in South Africa were hearing about another player who had gone to Ulster.

"This is a club that's on the map of world rugby and because it is, players want to come here."

Saturday may still be the pool stage, but there is no denying the anticipation Diack feels.

"I know there's a lot of Ulster supporters going over, which gives us that extra bit of momentum on the field," he enthuses. "I can't wait."

Irish Independent

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