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Muller sets his sights on silverware

Guinness PRO12 Editor

25 Aug 2012

It’s been six years since Ulster last collected any silverware, and for captain Johann Muller that is simply too long of a drought.

The South African lock was holding the Natal Sharks scrum together the last time the Irish province tasted glory of any kind in 2006, but after coming so close in Europe last term Muller is desperate to put that right.

The Ravenhill outfit were pipped in the Heineken Cup final by Leinster, but Muller claims Ulster will be back bigger and better this season.

A sixth-place finish in the RaboDirect PRO12 last year belied their performances on the continental front, and it’s the sort of promise shown on their travels that Muller is keen to build on under new coach Mark Anscombe.

“I think last year and the year before, everything that we did was a first. It was a first time in Europe for some of the guys, the first time in a semi-final, the first time in a final and you’ve got to take all of this information on board and that makes you a better player,” said Muller, who joined Ulster in 2010.

“You’ve got to learn from those things and it has been a massive learning curve for us over the last two years, but I reckon the time has come and it’s time to start delivering.

“We want to have a trophy at the end of the season, that’s our goal as players and as a management and we really want to push ourselves and drive ourselves to get that.

“We’ve got a stronger and bigger squad than we had last year and a lot of those young guys who are coming through the ranks were still at school two years ago.

“All of a sudden they are playing outstanding rugby and they are pushing senior guys for their positions and I think that kind of competition in a squad is fantastic.

“If you’ve got somebody really pushing for your field position that is going to bring the best out of you week-in week-out and I think that is really healthy for any competition and for every spot.

“So we’re still not where we want to be probably as a squad, but we’re working on it and it is all a process and hopefully we can achieve it.”

Muller’s first task is to lead his side out against Glasgow Warriors on August 31, and it’s an encounter he’s going to have to get used to.

Having drawn the Scottish outfit in the pool stage of the Heineken Cup, the two will lock horns four times by the end of February, but Muller is relishing the challenge.

He added: “Glasgow are a team that at this stage is on its way up, with the new facility and the new ground that they play at I really believe that they are a team that are going in the right direction.

“We’ve really struggled against them in the past, home and away, and they are an incredibly tough team for us to beat.

“We’re obviously going to see quite a bit of each other this year. But I think Ulster and Glasgow are teams that are on the right path and it should be interesting playing against each other.”