BBC Sport rugbyunion

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 12:49 GMT, Monday, 31 August 2009 13:49 UK

Field and Constable on Ulster

Ulster begin another season with an away trip to face the Dragons in the Magners League on Sunday 6 September and you can follow all the action throughout the season with full commentary on BBC Radio Ulster medium wave.

The BBC Sport website caught up with regular radio pundits Maurice Field and Ryan Constable to get their views on the prospects for the new campaign.

Maurice Field

Maurice Field
Former Ulster player and BBC Radio Ulster analyst

The appointment of Brian McLaughlin as the new Ulster coach was a bit of a surprise but he will bring a lot of experience from his time as a successful coach at schools' and Under-21 level and as skills coach with Ireland.

Brian made himself available on a two-year sabbatical from his job as a physical education teacher and I see it as something of an interim appointment until his assistant Jeremy Davidson finds his feet as a professional coach.

Davidson was an excellent appointment and brings bags of experience as a former international and Lions player, plus he has coached under Jim Telfer.

Richard Hill must have been a strong contender but I think you will see a different dynamic in the Ulster team this season.

It is all about playing with confidence and finding and developing combinations that work.

The coaches will be finding out how strong players are and what the depth of the squad is like and will then assess their options.

The best players do not necessarily make the best combinations and although the friendlies have gone well, the real test will come against the Dragons on Sunday.

The loss of Rory Best is a massive blow, especially as two other hookers, Neil Hanna and Stuart Philpott, have both been released.

One thing that Brian and Jeremy will instil is a more aggressive approach in defence and offence

Maurice Field

In the past Ulster has had a tendency to bring in players who have looked good on video but have not always produced the goods so hopefully this year they have been shrewd in their research as to who they've brought in.

Obviously we don't have the spending capacity that the major clubs in Europe enjoy and many of them have been using the Magners League as a training ground while we have been putting out full-strength teams.

Ulster are working with a young squad and realistically a mid-table finish in the Magners League is the best we can hope for.

To qualify for the last eight from our Heineken Cup pool is a massive ask, and while Bath is a very intimidating place to play, we could turn over Bath and Edinburgh at home if we play to our capability.

Stade Francais do not have fond memories of playing at Ravenhill and if we get in their face, you never know what can happen.

One thing that Brian and Jeremy will instil is a more aggressive approach in defence and offence and if there is a chance to put points on the board, we will take it.

Expansive rugby is good to watch but you must also be pragmatic and stop the opposition playing rugby.

If the team performs and shows that they are playing for each other and the white shirt, then the Ulster public will get behind them.

Ulster people like honest triers, not players who are earning a lot of money but not performing, and they will be asking why players are still in a job if they do not perform.

Ryan Constable

Ryan Constable
Former Ulster player and BBC Radio Ulster analyst

The Ulster hierarchy had to appoint a new coach on the basis of the candidates who were interested in the job and who was available and I think they made the right decision for where the organisation stands at the moment.

The coaches have all come through the system in Ulster and have Ulster rugby in their blood.

The most important appointment was the clarification of David Humphreys' role within the organisation.

Everyone involved in the set-up has significant knowledge and passion for Ulster rugby and in some ways the organisation is going back to its roots, building a culture and ethos around the local identity.

That identity and culture of representing the province has earned us wins where we should not have won in the past, so hopefully that will happen again.

The squad lost a lot of influential players all at once before the start of last season and the process of fully replacing them is still in its infancy.

The supporters will be happy if the players give of their best in the white shirt individually and collectively

Ryan Constable

The rebuilding process has started, with young players joining the senior ranks, but the full benefits of that production line may take a few years to come to fruition.

Anyone who thought that Ulster would enjoy instant success after losing so many players was mistaken.

The province does not have the money to buy a quality team so you have to build from within.

Having said that, the prospects for three to five years down the line are extremely bright as it will take some time for the young lads to realise their potential.

The team must dig their heels in and be obstinate at home and display a physical fitness above that of other sides.

There must be passion and a commitment to defence to help put a pride back in the performances and make Ravenhill a fortress once again.

The supporters will be happy if the players give of their best in the white shirt individually and collectively and if they fall short, then that's okay.

They want 15 people in white jerseys who will do what they the fans would do if they had the ability.

Ryan Constable and Maurice Field were talking to BBC Sport Online's Richard Petrie



Print Sponsor


related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.