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Dan Sheridan/INPHO Burns and Ulster have started this season well with five wins from six.
# On The Road
'It's a long drive to Thomond Park, and it has always been a pretty rubbish trip back'
Billy Burns has yet to win away against Munster since joining Ulster in 2018.

THOMOND PARK HASN’T been a happy hunting ground for Ulster in recent years, to the extent that they haven’t managed to win at the Limerick venue since 2014, something that isn’t lost on them ahead of this evening’s clash with Munster (5.15pm).

Indeed, the further irony for the northern province is that the last time they came away with four points from Thomond it was a heavily rotated side at the end of the 2013/14 campaign that picked up the win.

For Billy Burns, the frustration is palpable. The former Ireland international has yet to be on a winning side in Limerick since joining Ulster in 2018, a record he is very eager to rectify.

“Winning at home is amazing, there is no better feeling than winning at home in front of your crowd, it’s brilliant,” says the fly-half.

“But also the wins away are really special. It’s a long drive to Thomond Park and it has always been a pretty rubbish trip back after the games we have played there.

“It is one of the best places to play rugby, I have never won there and the majority of the lads in the squad have never won there.”

But this is now an Ulster team that has additional mental backing as they approach games such as these. Now that they have wins over the likes of Clermont, Leinster and Toulouse – and already this season the Emirates Lions – they are gaining a resilience when playing on the road.

“We have taken confidence from winning at places before, whether it be the RDS last year or when we went over to Clermont and won and Toulouse,” adds Burns.

“I don’t find places that intimidating really anymore. Maybe when I was younger I found them intimidating, they are class places to go and play.

“Playing in atmospheres that are tough and against you sometimes brings out the best in you, and I think the older I have got the more I have enjoyed that.

“We see it as an unbelievable challenge, of course we do, but we also understand if we go out there and put in a performance then we think we can get a result. It doesn’t matter if we are playing at Thomond Park, Kingspan or anywhere – if we can go and get our stuff right we can pick up a win.”

There is a feeling that Ulster perhaps will not get a better opportunity to pick up the win at Thomond given where the two teams find themselves at the start of the campaign, with Munster enduring a slow start due to a raft of injuries to key players.

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Ulster, meanwhile, have started well with five wins from six and look to have picked up where they left off last season, however they have their challenges this week as the province try and put a harrowing experience in South Africa, which saw 29 players and 13 staff go down with E.coli and norovirus, behind them.

And Burns believes they will come up against a wounded animal in Munster this evening, claiming they have to be mentally switched on for the clash if they are to finally end that wretched record down south.

“They are still a class team and they have started to put some performances together, and they have probably been disappointed with a couple of the results,” adds the former Gloucester man.

“But you can see what they are trying to do and it is a matter of time before they get it right, and hopefully we can come up with a plan that means they don’t get it right this weekend, put pressure on them in certain areas and put in a performance we are proud of and the result takes care of itself.”

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