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Rory Best hoping to leave lineout jitters behind and leapfrog Leinster

The Ulster hooker knows he needs a strong finish to the season if his province are to stay in the trophy hunt.

Rory Best had an indifferent spell of lineout throwing in the Six Nations.
Rory Best had an indifferent spell of lineout throwing in the Six Nations.
Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

IT WAS AN unfortunate coincidence that Ulster and Rory Best, while on Ireland duty, got the jitters at the same time.

While Ulster have won just one game in five Pro12 outings since January, their hooker was missing his lineout targets in crucial away defeats to Scotland and Italy.

Best is back on provincial duty and has been heartened to reconnect with returning stalwarts such as Johann Muller and Chris Henry.

Ahead of this Saturday’s clash with Leinster, Best told the BBC that his side’s positive start to the season – they were unbeaten for 13 league matches – put them in a strong position to ride a mid-season injury storm.

“We’ve taken confidence from what we’ve done this season,” he said.

“In the last six games, the results haven’t been that fantastic for us but at times, under adversity and with international players away, we have looked good.

“We haven’t got as many points as we perhaps deserved or would have wanted but the season has been one where we have not produced over the last couple of games but still only two points off the top of the table.”

Likes what he sees

“We were probably fortunate or unfortunate,” said Best, “whatever way you want to look at it, that we got all our injuries at one time. It was disappointing not to have so many players over the last six games but the upside to that they are all coming back at around the same time.

“The squad that we can put out and when you stand around in that circle after training and you look at the faces, and the quality we have, you take confidence from that.

“That’s what we need going into this game in Dublin. It is going to take a massive performance. They are the reigning European Cup champions and it’s going to be a tough ask for us but this side are capable of big performances.”

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Nick Williams’ return should boost the Ulster pack. (©INPHO/Presseye/William Cherry)

Best told the BBC that his side took a lot of confidence from their deserved 27-19 win over Leinster in December. He added:

With them being the best side in Europe over the last three or four years, they are the team everybody wants to beat.

“With Ulster doing a number on them at Christmas, they’ll be eyeing revenge. That will add some spice to it.

“We feel that if we get a win against Leinster, regain the top spot, it will be hard to shift us from there.”

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Patrick McCarry

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