Ulster Head Coach Dan McFarland knows his side will need to be at their absolute best to dethrone three-in-a-row chasing Leinster in Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 final, as the northern province prepare to make their first appearance in the showpiece decider in seven years.
All of the odds appear to fall in Leinster’s favour heading towards the Aviva Stadium this weekend, with Leo Cullen‘s side currently unbeaten through the 2019/20 campaign and bidding to claim their fifth PRO14 title in eight years – but McFarland knows his side are capable of causing the defending champions problems.
Ulster go into the final on a high following their own dramatic semi-final victory over Edinburgh and while they were beaten by Leinster in the final round of Regular Season action just two weekends ago, McFarland’s side – as Felipe Contepomi outlined yesterday – have the attacking weapons in their armoury to upset the odds.
“Can they [Leinster] be beaten? Yeah. What else am I going to say,” McFarland said. “What have the bookies got us at? Minus 10? That’s a two-score deficit in a final. They are basically saying we’ve got no chance.
“But yeah they obviously can be beaten. Saracens beat them last year in a final. We’ve got to have a physical intensity to at least match them and a game plan of a way of getting in to them.
“We are going to need big plays from our big players and we will need to be precise. If we can get those things right then we have a chance and if they don’t get those things right then it’ll obviously help us, but I am not planning for them to make any mistakes.
“We go in believing we can win the game.”
Ulster will also take encouragement from the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final between the two provinces in March 2019, when a Ross Byrne penalty was the only thing that separated them during an epic contest at Irish Rugby HQ, and the exciting progress made under McFarland’s tutelage in recent years will engender quiet optimism among Ulster supporters, not least for Saturday but going forward too.
“I’ve spoken to them about the fact we want the pressure on us,” the Ulster Head Coach added. “Because if you don’t have the pressure on you, I genuinely believe you don’t care enough. If you lose there’s a huge amount of pain afterwards. In sport if the losses don’t hurt then the wins don’t mean as much. How can you possibly enjoy the heights of winning if you don’t know the massive lows of losing? The loss is only low if it means a lot to you.”