Champions Cup: Ulster’s Dan McFarland desperate to get back to winning ways

Dylan Coetzee
Head coach Dan McFarland has blasted the late venue change that saw Ulster host La Rochelle at the Aviva Stadium rather than Kingspan Stadium in the Champions Cup. 

Ulster coach Dan McFarland plans to use all his energy to drive his team out of a poor run of form over the last couple of games.

McFarland’s men have lost their last two games, including a dramatic 31-29 loss to Benetton in Treviso last weekend and a late 15-14 loss to Munster the week before.

The results do not make for good reading, particularly when the games should have been won, with Ulster holding the lead in both outings before the result was snatched from them.

Belief in the processes

The coach admits it is important to question and challenge processes during a run of bad form but believes in what he is doing with the club.

“Obviously, you always challenge yourself, and you ask yourself, the things that you believe in, are you doing them?” McFarland said.

“But you cannot do it too much because you can send yourself down a rabbit hole. I know our processes are good, high-quality processes.

“I need to use my energy to keep driving those forward and improve day-in, day-out. Self-reflection is on a detail level. I am not looking into my soul to find out if I am suddenly a bad head coach or not.”

Ulster are still placed well in the United Rugby Championship and sits fourth on the table. However, in the Champions Cup, two losses in as many games make the team outsiders to progress to the knockout stages.

The coach admits he wants to get back to winning ways and is desperate to get things right in a job he loves.

“I am not going to say it is water off a duck’s back because I want to win,” he said. “I love winning, but that isn’t the reason I live. The reason I live is because I love my job. I come in on a Monday and I am invigorated.”

Massive challenge ahead

Ulster faces La Rochelle away from home this weekend, who beat them 36-29 at the Kingspan Stadium at the end of last year.

The 50-year-old is excited about the clash and knows it will be tricky against the defending champions but sees the game as a good opportunity.

“La Rochelle offer so many threats, they are up among the top three teams in Europe, they caused us plenty of problems when we played them in the Aviva,” he added.

“We are playing a team with huge size, they also have a lot of exciting and experienced players who know how to manage a game and who can batter you with the size of their players.

“So it is a brilliant challenge but the guys who are selected this week to play the game, why wouldn’t they relish that?”

“What a great opportunity, that’s the way we approach it and take it for the 80 minutes and the experience of the day itself, it’s only in doing that, that we can give of our best.”

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