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'It's only taken me seven months!' - Nick Williams hitting form for Ulster

The explosive No. 8 believes the northern province can make up for Heineken Cup disappointment in the Pro12.

Williams is in a good place ahead of the Pro12 run-in.
Williams is in a good place ahead of the Pro12 run-in.
Image: Presseye/Declan Roughan/INPHO

ONE OF THE major positives from Ulster’s recent spirit-crushing home defeat to Saracens in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals was the return to form of No. 8 Nick Williams.

The Kiwi powerhouse had been struggling to find his stride over recent months, but seven carries for 37 metres and muscular work in the tight exchanges hinted that the 30-year-old is peaking at the perfect time in the season.

European ambitions have been thwarted, but the former Munster back row looks set to play a key role in the closing stages of the Pro12 campaign.

“It’s only taken me seven months! I think there was something about the quarter-final that triggered something in me. Big players play big games when it matters the most.

We’re still obviously gutted the way we lost in the fashion that we did,” continues Williams. “Such is life; you need to get back on your feet as quick as possible. That’s the nature of the game.”

Second-placed Ulster face Glasgow at Scotstoun tomorrow night [KO 7.35pm], before finishing the regular season fixtures with a home tie against Leinster on the 2nd of May and a trip to Munster on the 10th.

“It’s going to be interesting,” says Williams. “It’s a bit tight on the Rabo table there. With the next three games we’re playing, we’ll meet the other top teams.

Nick Williams celebrates with fans Williams celebrates with Ulster fans after last weekend's win over Connacht. Source: Presseye/Darren Kidd/INPHO

“I’ve told the lads it’s a good thing for us, because if we do meet them in the semis again, at least you know what these teams are capable of bringing. You want to have a tough run into those games, rather than maybe going in undercooked. That will start against the boys in Glasgow this weekend.”

A home semi-final at Ravenhill is the target for Mark Anscombe’s men, with Williams stating Ulster’s intention of treating each of the next three games as a knock-out fixture. The offloading No. 8 believes home advantage can be secured, offering the province a real shot at the Pro12 crown.

I think we can, mate. I’ve been playing this game a long time and I’m big enough and ugly enough to know that this is why you play; to bring the ball back to your home crowd and your family.

“Positivity is key. We’ve got a good game plan in place to try and bring back a bit of silverware.”

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Murray Kinsella

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