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Fitzpatrick: Time To Change Away Record

Fitzpatrick: Time To Change Away Record

Ulster conclude their Heineken Cup campaign on Saturday with a trip to Stade Francais and former Ireland prop Justin Fitzpatrick feels the province are poised to surprise the French giants, just a week after ending Harlequins’ winning run in Pool 4.

Both Ulster and Stade Francais may be out of the quarter-final contention, but with the new Heineken Cup ratings system in place, a victory for Ulster at Stade Jean Bouin would mean a higher seeding for next season’s tournament.

Ulster’s best result in France has been a draw with Toulouse but prop Justin Fitzpatrick is positive they can get their first win on French soil when they take on Stade.

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Fitzpatrick spent two years playing in France with Castres Olympique before returning to Ulster in 2005, so is well aware of how hard it is to face the French on their own turf.

“It’s very important for us to win on Saturday, there may be no quarter-final place at stake this year but we want to start getting the consistency week after week and not having any fear about playing away from home,” he said.

“We took a lot of confidence about going down to Limerick and winning at Thomond Park and we hadn’t done that in 17 years.

“We haven’t won in France in the European Cup and it’s about time that changed. The French are a tough lot and don’t like to lose, but neither do we.”

The Ulster prop got a last-minute call up from the bench for last weekend’s match against Harlequins, when BJ Botha was withdrawn due to illness.

Commenting on the 21-10 victory over ‘Quins at a weather-beaten Ravenhill, he explained: “It was a difficult game and a real game of two halves…first half we had the elements and went in 16 points up, but we knew that wasn’t going to be enough.

“We knew we would need a monumental performance in the second half to stay with them and come out victorious.

“I thought that from 1 to 22 everybody got stuck in and worked very hard. We fought and fought to the end, the spirit of the squad turned out to be enough to get the victory.”

Fitzpatrick added: “It’s been a difficult couple of weeks in that we had the high of beating Munster and then we let ourselves down in Edinburgh last week.

“We wanted to rectify that defeat, both for ourselves and our supporters, and I felt we did that against ‘Quins.

“The win showed that it just wasn’t a blip against Munster and that we can compete against the best sides in Europe. We now have to do that week after week because that is the sign of a great side.”