‘Every point matters’ as URC play-off push heats up says Ulster back row David McCann

Ulster in seventh spot ahead of crucial clash with Stormers in Cape Town

Ulster rugby players
Ulster back row David McCann is expecting “a bruising encounter” against the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday (Brian Little)

With only six games left in the regular season, Ulster are fighting to save their United Rugby Championship campaign by reaching the play-offs.

After leaving Durban last weekend with no match points after a defeat by the Sharks, the province slipped to seventh in the table ahead of Saturday’s clash with the in-form Stormers in Cape Town.

The Stormers are a point and two places above Ulster in the table but more worrying for Richie Murphy’s side is that they sit just a point ahead of ninth place Connacht and 10th place Benetton.

Failure to make the play-offs would be a double blow for Ulster as they also need to finish in the top eight to qualify for next season’s Champions Cup and avoid another financial blow.

Back row Dave McCann is well aware of how tight the race for a play-off spot will be and that “every point matters” in the URC run-in.

“It is how competitive the league is this year – every game counts and every point counts so it is big for us to try and get the win on the weekend and try and come back with some points,” said the former Ireland U20 captain.

“It feels like every point matters – we are in a play-off position at the moment but that doesn’t mean too much.

“We just need to keep on working, try to get some results and put ourselves in position because when you get into play-offs anyone can win.

“I don’t really feel it is pressure, it is expectation on us that will be in the playoffs. That is our standard, so we need to live up to that standard.

“I don’t see it as a pressure I see it as we need to get there and take it from there.”

Ulster have never won in Cape Town, losing on both their previous visits to DHL Stadium.

“It will definitely be a bruising encounter. It always is playing South African sides, especially here.

“It is going to be different because the humidity and heat isn’t as great in Cape Town so that is great for us and means we’ll have a little more energy and a bit more power in us, but it will be just as physical as we would expect from South African sides.

Interim coach Murphy took charge of Ulster for the fist time against the Sharks and despite the 22-12 defeat McCann is confident that through time what the new man is trying to implement will pay off on the pitch.

“Richie has been very clear about what he wants from us and what he expects from us, so it is then over to us to deliver on that,” he said.

“It may take a little bit of time but you can start to see it in training that those little things are that are being talked about are starting definitely to come into play.

“It has been enjoyable because it is new ideas and new ways of looking at things coming in. It gives people energy and it makes people think in a different way”

“I definitely feel that way. I can see once we bed these things in and give them time and really get to grips with it we’ll start to see that on the pitch.

“We are not ripping it up and starting again. It is just little tweaks, things on the pitch just need to be a little more accurate or [it’s a case of] how we can do things slightly differently, [like] our training methods, how we can change them.

“So, it is not completely fresh it is just little tweaks that will actually allow us to improve our performances and be more consistent in our actions and that will allow us to be more consistent in the big games.”