Kristian is 18 years old, from Newcastle Upon Tyne and has only been supporting Ulster since December after being Introduced to the team by a friend. Ulster has become his Friday night routine. He hasn’t been blogging long at all, and for the name of his entry, has opted for SUFTUM: "Simple, apt, and pretty much what all Ulster fans want to hear". His best rugby moment as an Ulster fan was Craig Gilroy’s darting run and try against Munster in last season’s Heineken Cup. Magic
So, with the fixture lists now revealed, Ulster Rugby know who they will face for the upcoming RaboDirect PRO12 season. It's fair to say, there is a lot of expectation behind the Irish side that finished as the second top team in Europe last year, after a brilliant Heineken Cup campaign, but fell short in the RaboDirect PRO12. However, a brand new era starts at Ulster this year.
With a whole host of new signings including the returns of Niall O'Connor from Connacht and the household name of Tommy Bowe from Ospreys, Ulster will look to make better on their competition finish last year of sixth place. They have a strong squad, with depth and very good ability, Rory Best, Stephen Ferris, and Ruan Pienaar to name but a few are all world class. A new coach in Mark Anscombe, Ulster certainly have enough pedigree to go on and challenge the likes of Leinster and Ospreys, having actually scored the most tries last season in the 22 league games at 53, five more than table toppers Leinster, and nine more than overall champions Ospreys.
Ulster are a major force in the RaboDirect PRO 12, and they showed that last year. Squad depth isn’t a problem either, many of Ulster’s players last year showed their potential, Paddy Jackson being the standout figure, as well as the try on the final day from Iain Henderson. Ulster’s home form is also going to be key; last year Ravenhill was a fortress and Ulster became very hard to beat at home. Ulster will, however, need to try and see out the end of the season better than last. With the Heineken Cup becoming the priority, Ulster’s campaign in the RaboDirect PRO12 started to slip, and the defeat to provincial rivals Connacht saw the end of their Play-Off push. However, Ulster will be majorly positive going into the new season. They know fine well they are capable of a top 4 finish, and can beat the strongest teams in the competition, Ospreys and Munster being an example from last season.
With the try scoring record last year, a fan base that never fails to support and players that are more like a family than a club, Ulster have the chemistry to go on to big things in the RaboDirect PRO12. As long as Ulster get off to a good start, as I’m sure they will do, they will finish in the Play-Off positions. The Ulstermen know what has to be done, and the question now remains, just can they do it. Will 2012-13 be their season? With the anticipation now building amongst every RaboDirect PRO12 fan, only one thing remains to be said… Roll on the opening day of the season.
Best addition to your side?
Tommy Bowe’s return without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest addition.
Opening day prediction?
Glasgow are tough to beat, but Ravenhill is a fortress, I believe a narrow Ulster win
Overall season prediction for your side?
If we play right, a top 4 finish.
Bowe to score many tries, Pienaar to be ever present with the boot.
Who's going to win the RaboDirect PRO12?
Just on sheer squad quality, my heart says it will have to be Leinster. But my heart says Ulster.