Ulster Rugby v Edinburgh


O'Connor, who came up the road from Leinster six years ago, graduated from the Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy and wasted little time in imposing his considerable presence in Ulster’s set-piece and in the loose.

He has been a regular face on the Ulster team sheet and has featured in 16 out of 20 games this season, which he says is going really well for him personally. “I’m staying on top of the body and making sure I’m fit to go every week. I have a little routine for myself that I didn’t have a couple of years ago so I’ve really got to know how my body feels and

Friday, running in nine tries against the South African side in a 59-10 success. “It was obviously a good game and we got the result we wanted. It would have been great for them to not score a try but they have some quick players and were really quick on the break. We constructed some really good tries throughout the game, including a couple on the break, so it was a good all round performance from everyone.”

what I need to do to make it feel better so I’m really enjoying this season. The new coaches coming in have brought big new ideas and a freshness about the place

O’Connor led the team as Captain during last week’s stunning victory, but spares little time to reflect on such triumphs as it's back to business tonight as Ulster seek to extend the gap between themselves in 3rd and Edinburgh in 4th to secure a place in the PRO14 play offs. “I was just handed the role of Captain and it was all good. It’s easy to lead the team out

and I’m really enjoying the challenges they throw up to us week in week out both in training and on the pitch at the weekend.” The recent departure of Director of Rugby Les Kiss saw Head Coach Jono Gibbes take the reins but these structural changes had little impact on a man whose steely intent is to get on with life.

and to captain guys who want to put the effort in, guys who come out with the right attitude. Once you’re out there it’s just the same as any other game and like I said when you have guys that are willing to put the effort in and the work rate around the field, it makes every other job easy. It was great.” Edinburgh's five-try win over Leinster means that they remain just three points behind Ulster in Conference B meaning there is everything to play for tonight if Ulster are to secure a final play-off spot. “Edinburgh have looked good this year. They’ve come on well and they’re a really physical side, so I think they’re going to bring that. They’re going to want to turn us over and make boys of us, but, obviously, we’re not going to let that happen on our own pitch. Our mentality is right so we’ll make sure we turn up all guns blazing.”

INTERVIEW: ALAN O'CONNOR “Les is a big character and everyone really liked him. He was around here for two and a half, three years nearly. I owe a lot to Les, he gave me my first start, so it’s been a transition alright, but we still have a job to do so we’re trying to keep our focus and get down to business tonight.

“Working with Jono has been really good. He is straight forward and makes things simple and sort of narrows down to the things that actually matter. He gets us all to focus on them and deliver on them, so I am really enjoying his training sessions. He brings a good mentality for the whole squad, a mentality of wanting to go out and impose yourself on the opposition rather than just participating, so it’s been good.” The Ulstermen certainly imposed themselves on the Southern Kings in spectacular fashion last



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