Ulster attack coach Neil Doak maintains they won’t be lulled into a false sense of security by Edinburgh’s poor form in the RaboDirect PRO12.
In an all-RaboDirect PRO12 affair, Ulster host Edinburgh at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday in a Heineken Cup semi-final – but their league form could barely be more contrasting.
While Ulster – who have already done the double over Michael Bradley’s side – could still snatch a RaboDirect PRO12 semi-final place, Edinburgh have won just five league matches with only Aironi winning fewer.
But as they have shown by beating French teams Racing Metro and Toulouse in European competition, Edinburgh can beat anyone on their day and Doak will not be taking their challenge lightly.
He said: “During the International periods – the World Cup and Six Nations – they have 10 or 11 players who disappear for weeks at a time.
“They have signed some good players to improve their squad depth, but if you take that number of quality players out of the equation, it's going to affect them.
“It is difficult to compete on both fronts unless you have a massive squad. Their position in the PRO12 gives a false account of how good a team they are and if you look at their stats in the Heineken Cup, it will give a better indication of them as a team.
“It’s a semi-final of the European Cup so that won’t come into it. It will be about who handles the pressure best on the day. It will be about who does the basics well, who defends well, who gets their set piece right.”
There is mixed news for Ulster on the injury front with centre Paddy Wallace and back-rower Pedrie Wannenburg – who both picked up knocks in their RaboDirect PRO12 defeat to Ulster – expected to pass fitness tests.
Ireland internationals Stephen Ferris, Rory Best and Dan Tuohy were all kept under wraps for that match, which might have proved a wise move on Brian McLaughlin’s part after Chris Henry’s ankle injury left him doubtful
“Stevie (Ferris), Rory (Best) and Dan (Tuohy) weren’t involved last week so it’s important to get them back in and have a good blow out to get rid of the cobwebs,” added Doak. “We will have a bit of fine tuning to do and then it will taper off later in the week.
“A lot of hard work has gone in over the past two or three years. While the players and coaches get the plaudits, it will be nice for everyone in the organisation if we can make it through.
“Success at senior level will hopefully allow the game at all levels in the Province to flourish. It will be a great occasion on Saturday and hopefully we can get the result.”