Ulster urged to back up big Clermont win against Saints

Ulster celebrated a win at Clermont Auvergne last weekendUlster celebrated a win at Clermont Auvergne last weekend
Ulster celebrated a win at Clermont Auvergne last weekend
Ulster coach Dan Soper has urged his side to avoid a repeat of recent history when they host Saints on Friday night.

Ulster go into the Champions Cup pool game on the back of a superb 29-23 win at Clermont Auvergne last weekend.

But Soper has warned the players not to get carried away as they recently beat Leinster only to lose to Ospreys the following week.

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And he knows they will have to be on their guard against a wounded Saints side who were defeated 45-14 by Racing 92 at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens last Friday.

"Every time we go out we want to win but we have to get ourselves to a position where it is our performance that drives us," Soper said.

"The last time we had a good win away to Leinster we didn't back it up the following week and that is something that we are well aware of.

"The very top teams in Europe and in domestic leagues are the teams that have big results and then back them up the next week. If we want to be a team that sits at the top table then that is what we need to do.

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"You want to find that lovely balance where you win but you are still looking to push your game on and not be completely satisfied.

"We know we are not the finished article by any stretch, so we have got a lot that we can keep striving to get better at."

Ulster have been working with sports psychologist Darren Devaney since the summer and Soper feels that can help to ensure the team find the consistency they are seeking.

"Darren has been really useful," Soper said. "He has not been here particularly long but he already is having a real influence on the squad and on things that we do.

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"Hopefully he can help with that consistency. It is an excellent question and one that every coach in every sport is striving to find the secret answer to, as to how do you get consistency.

"What we are trying to go after is that we have standards in our week in how we prepare.

"We encourage the players to have a routine in how they go about preparing themselves so that they are as well prepared for Clermont as they will be this week for Saints at home."

Ulster will be without wing Robert Baloucoune against Saints as he suffered a shoulder injury against Clermont.

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But the men from Belfast can call on a number of stars, including World Cup winner Duane Vermeulen, who impressed on debut last weekend.

"Duane went really well - it was a big ask of him," said Soper.

"He got one training session and was in and out of that a bit, but he is a very smart, experienced rugby player who has experienced moving clubs during his career so knows what the really important things are to get a handle on.

"We tried to make it as simple as possible for him during the week and just let him get out there and get into it. The lads were very supportive of him also. It was great to have him out there."

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