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We Have To Keep Improving – Best

We Have To Keep Improving – Best

It is all to play for in the race to secure a home play-off with the top four sides going head-to-head this weekend in the penultimate round of the regular GUINNESS PRO12 season.

Second-placed Munster come to Kingspan Stadium to face provincial rivals Ulster, who lie in third spot and just a point behind them.

League leaders Glasgow Warriors, who are two points clear of Munster, face a trip to the Liberty Stadium where they face the Ospreys, who are four points behind the Scots at present.

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For Ulster the task is clear. Win against Munster on Saturday afternoon and then at Scotstoun Stadium against Glasgow a week later and they will be back in Belfast for the semi-final stage.

“It is a fairly simple equation,” admitted Ulster captain Rory Best with a smile, acknowledging the fact the squad will face their toughest two games of the season in the next fortnight.

“It is in our hands at the end of the day and it is up to us to deliver on the day. We showed against Leinster what we can do. That was a professional performance, probably our best this season.

“We talked all year -and people thought I was mad when I was saying – that we are building something here. We are training well and it is going to take a bit of time and hopefully by the end of the season it will start to come.

“We have improved game on game and we know we need to keep on improving. The Leinster game was good for us, we played well in the conditions, we did what we had to, we were very professional how we went about that. Now we have to better than that again for the next game. That is the way we are going forward.”

Best, Jared Payne, Tommy Bowe and Iain Henderson enjoyed a trophy win with Ireland this season in retaining the RBS 6 Nations title. Ireland’s most-capped hooker agreed that having a taste of silverware in the green jersey adds to the hunger to do it with his province.

“Twelve months ago sitting in a dressing room in Paris (after winning the Six Nations) we knew what you needed to produce to win something,” explained Best.

“At that stage there was not anyone left who had won the Grand Slam (in 2009), Tommy (Bowe) had just come home and he was injured, there was myself, Stephen (Ferris) and Paddy (Wallace) had retired, Tom (Court) had left, so we did not have a lot of Ulster people who had experienced winning.

“From that game and with some more Ulster players winning this season, some for the first and some for the second, when you win at that level you realise what it takes.

“In respect of the PRO12, the other three teams in the top four are not going to hand it to us. We have to go out and take it, we have to go out and perform to a level and that was what we were guilty off in the past when we reached the final and semi-finals.

“Leinster had beaten us on the big occasion in the last number of years because they performed better on the day or they had better starts and we had to chase the game and ultimately we have to learn now no one is going to hand it to you

“It is not going to be easy, but if you can get across that line it is definitely worth it. Winning the last two Championships with Ireland really shows that.

“You are in pieces afterwards having given everything you had, but suddenly when the final whistle goes you find a bit of energy from somewhere!”

Ulster’s skipper is not often shocked, but he certainly looked surprised when he was named the Heineken Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year at the annual awards gala dinner last Friday.

“I think when I heard during the week that I was nominated for Player of the Year, it was a nice surprise up against two guys (Darren Cave and Craig Gilroy) who had really good seasons. It was a huge honour to win the top award and it means so much to me.”