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Williams: It’s A Horses For Courses Selection

Williams: It’s A Horses For Courses Selection

Ulster’s caretaker coach Steve Williams believes he has selected the side that could guide the province to their first Heineken Cup win on French soil when they take on Bourgoin at the Stade Pierre Rajon tomorrow night.

Williams, who took over from Mark McCall earlier this week, has been quick to put his stamp on the Ulster team, making four changes in personnel and two positional switches to the side that started last week’s 32-14 defeat to Gloucester at Ravenhill.

Appointed as the province’s forwards coach last summer, the former Wales international has opted for an international-laden line-up for the must-win Bourgoin game – indeed this will be the first time that Ulster have field a team of 15-capped international players in their history.

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Two of the Ulster’s most consistent players in recent seasons, former Wallaby lock Justin Harrison and Ireland “A’ full-back Bryn Cunningham, have been dropped from the matchday 22, while Scotland centre Rob Dewey will have to make do with a place on the bench.

But in a welcome boost, the experienced Paul Steinmetz and Kieron Dawson are both back from injury, while Simon Danielli and Mark Bartholomeusz have both won back their starting places.

Asked about his team selection, Williams said: “I’m not going to go into the reasons why certain players are or aren’t playing – those are conversations I have had with them – but I think it is a team suited for what we are about to face.

“It is a horses for courses team and it is very combative, I hope. I think there are people behind the scrum who can make things happen. We have to be positive and try to go out and win the game, not to go out and try not to lose.

“We aren’t going out there just to keep the score down – we want to win the game.”

Ulster’s build-up for what could be a season-defining game has not been helped by the resignation of Mark McCall as head coach. Giving his opinion on McCall’s departure and how it has affected Ulster Rugby, Williams admitted: “Everyone has been affected by it this week. I think we are all upset. We are disappointed because we feel we have sort of let Mark down a bit. But it has happened and we have the utmost respect for Mark and it was never a case of any disbelief in him.

“We were not doing our jobs well enough and all of us have to accept that. It is an unpleasant place to be, but there is a game on Friday night and that game is going to happen and we have to ready for it and move on.

“When players go onto the pitch there is not an awful lot more the coach can do. It is not his fault if the ball is dropped or turned over. There is no point in pretending we are not sort of hurting, because we are, and if that galvanises us then some good can come from it.”