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Fresh from 'fighting brothers' in Munster, Nagle determined to set physical tone for Ulster

The Corkman will lead the Ulster pack in their inter-pro clash with Connacht.

THE SATISFACTION WAS clear on Ian Nagle’s face.

Though there was plenty for Ulster to be unhappy about in their 19-12 win over an under-strength Munster, Nagle had won a few personal battles to earn the right to smile.

On loan from Leinster and a son of Cork, the 30-year-old relished the tight and scrappy nature of the battle against his native province.

Bragging rights taste sweet. And endorphins flow after a full-match exertion.

“Glad to get 80 minutes under the belt. I’ll feel it tomorrow now,” nods Nagle with a grin.

Tommy O'Donnell with Ian Nagle Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

His last 80-minute outing was against the Southern Kings all the way back in February. Any inter-pro would feel a world away, but there is an extra-special kind of intensity when it’s your former province in opposition.

“It’s always a bit strange to face Munster, like fighting your brother or something like that,” jokes the lock.

I’ve such fond memories of my time in Munster that, definitely it might sound strange, but I want to play well to show respect to an extent.

“It’s great to get a victory against Munster because Ulster’s my club now and I want to contribute everything I can to the club that I’m with.

“At the same time, I’ll always be a Munster fan at heart. So it’s mixed emotions.”

No doubt Nagle will be experiencing those mixed emotions when Munster meet his parent club Leinster on Saturday. But before that familial squabble, Nagle will hope to push Ulster to fifth straight win when they visit Connacht on Friday.

Ian Nagle Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A rib injury has curtailed his minutes since moving from Leinster on loan in November, but after three appearances Nagle feels he has settled in relatively smoothly into his new surrounds at the Kingspan.

“A very easy transition. I’m really taken aback by how good the facilities are, the attention to detail from the coaches, how young the squad is – I probably wasn’t aware of that before I came up. There’s a really good sense of excitement in the group and it’s good to be part of that.

I suppose a lot of teams are playing fairly similarly these days. In terms of style of play, it’s not a huge jump for what we were doing at Leinster, just different terminology.

“The line-out calls is the most difficult part of it and just getting used to players and different combinations. It comes to you fairly quick actually, at least I hope it does.”

A functioning line-out would be a massive boost in Galway, where Ulster look set to meet a home side in red-hot form and hurting from their near miss against Leinster.

“That will be a huge one now,” says Nagle before it’s mentioned that the weather will have a bearing on the clash in Galway. If it were to be clear and dry, then Connacht will be freely able to play their own game.  Something a little tougher, scrappier would suit a hard-nosed second row down to the ground.

“I hope so. I think that’s what we want. From last few weeks here, we’re relishing that physicality and testing ourselves.”

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Sean Farrell

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