Ulster Rugby vs Ospreys

JOE BARAKAT: “WE WANT OUR FANS TO GO AWAY SINGING” Ulster’s new assistant coach will experience his first PRO12 game at Kingspan Stadium tonight and he is focused on delivering for the fans...


“This weekend we have got to finish what we start, get into the green zone with relative ease in the opposition 22. It is not just about feeling comfortable and confident doing that but lifting that to another level to make sure we cross the try line. That is how we are going to gauge ourselves against Ospreys.” Explaining his dynamic and how he fits into the coaching set up at Ulster, Joe describes his first two months here as magnificent... “I have a clear role which is collision zone, mainly defence. I am working with two really good coaches in Doaky (Neil) and Clarkey (Allan) and we share ideas. It is a really good open environment and we have the support of Niall (Malone) our analyst. It’s good that we are open to learn from one another, we have our specific areas but we are all willing to give our opinions on other areas and how to improve, so far it has been magnificent. “My coaching style is based on determination, I am a very determined person, I love winning and I hate losing. There is nothing worse in life than losing, my wife hates it because I annoy her so much when we lose. So I will try my best to make sure that we are winning because that makes my life happier. “Rugby is my passion, I am so lucky to get paid to work in my hobby every day of my life and I think that when you lose the passion for this game no matter what you’re earning or what country you are in, you may as well give it up. I have always been really enthusiastic and charismatic about what I do and who I am and what I want to deliver and I think that has been really welcomed here. For the players something different is always a little bit exciting so I am just glad to be able to offer that little bit of difference.”

“We just have to reward them, they spend a lot of money to come and support us and not recognising that and not rewarding them and not riding on the back of 18,000 giants would be very remissive of us. So I am really looking forward to experiencing that and looking forward to the rugby and the specific way we get to play against Ospreys. We know we can beat them and beat them well, and we want our fans to go away singing!” Having arrived at Ulster in July, Joe has already identified several individuals who have the potential to stand out during the absence of World Cup players... “We have got some fantastic footballers, we have great locks in Franco, Dan, Pete Browne and Lewis, who is coming back from injury, he has had a fantastic pre- season. Our front row of Rob, Wiehahn and Andy have done well and Willie Faloon who has come back to his home province, has a real opportunity this weekend to cement himself back into a strong position in the team. This franchise is full of fantastic players and being successful is just something we have all got to fight for. “We have said all along, our first five games in this competition are really important. We can’t wait for those seven guys to come back from the World Cup before we build any momentum. We have got to make sure that our momentum is firmly built and they have got to catch us on their way back. We cannot be waiting for them, and that is our focus, for them to be on a fast train when they come back in not on a train that is slow and struggling. We want to be challenging their role in the squad when they return from international duty. Two defeats from two pre-season friendlies wasn’t exactly the start that new assistant coach Joe Barakat wanted to get off to, but he is keen to take the positives from the warm up games... “It has been slightly disappointing these past few weeks,” says Barakat. “But we are lucky, we know these pre-season games don’t give us points, they are all about trying things that we have been planning and putting them into practice. We are happy with the opportunities that we have been creating. If you look at last weekend for example, we had the ball for 16 minutes and our opponents had the ball for eight minutes and they won by 13 points. We know that we had so much more ball possession and opportunities but we didn’t finish off our green zone attack close to their line. We are excited by what we are developing but horrendously disappointed by the fact that we are not finishing. This weekend we cannot except that developing plays is good enough, we have got to get points on the board. Against Edinburgh we had eight opportunities where we could have taken shots on goal, they took their shots because their focus was to win while our focus was to make sure we were getting our plays right. So yes, disappointing on the scoreboard but we are still developing what we want to develop.


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