Ulster's McFarland remains defiant
NEWS: Ulster coach Dan McFarland admitted confidence in the side after the 39-0 mauling at the hands of Sale Sharks this past weekend that was spearheaded by Springbok Robert du Preez.
But McFarland remains defiant as his side looks to repair the damage inflicted upon them.
And while one loss doesn’t make them a bad team, McFarland’s issues in the Champions’ Cup could be compounded this weekend by two more Springboks who lie in wait in the form Dylan Lleyds and Raymond Rhule. The Irish side face defending champions La Rochelle in their next outing.
Du Preez was one of the stars, alongside his set of twin brothers Dan and Jean-Luc, as Sale demolished Ulster and sent out a warning to the rest of the competition that they are taking Europe seriously.
But McFarland has written it off as just another bad day at the office, rather than the crisis that might be suggested by the Sale defeat following on from a second half disintegration against 14-man Leinster in the United Rugby Championship match.
“There is always going to be criticism,” he said after the loss. “I have got a job to focus on just as the guys have got a job to focus on. In terms of credit in the bank, this is a side that has done a lot over a chunk of time. 120 minutes of rugby not playing great, we’ll be looking at that as much as anybody else and just refocusing on what we are good at.
“But it doesn’t turn you into a bad team, 120 minutes of rugby.”
McFarland admitted confidence was low in the side after the mauling and he will need the likes of the experienced Bok Duane Vermeulen to help refocus the side ahead of their tough assignment against the French team.
“Most of our energy going into next week will be focusing on what we have got to do against La Rochelle. We are not going to fall into a swamp of self-pity. There is not enough time in a six-day turnaround when you are playing the European champions.
“We are probably lacking a bit of confidence at the moment, we saw that towards the end of the Leinster game and we definitely saw a bit of that. Confidence is a funny thing.
“It can only take a small thing to re-spark it or it can get knocked by a couple of things that don’t go your way. We have certainly got to find our mojo and get back to doing the things that we are good at.”
Sale’s boss Alex Sanderson has been singing Du Preez’ praises as the South African-laden team has been in rampant form since he took over as captain of the team and it wouldn’t be a surprise if it was noticed by the Springbok selectors.
“As I said earlier in the season, Rob du Preez and George Ford have been really pushing our attack,” he said after the match.
“I think it’s really helped that Rob has been on fire this season, so he’s making it easier for everyone else. We talked in the week about him being captain and that he has got to lead people around him as well.
“He was the one doing most of the talking in the huddles, and he managed the game really well. I thought he carried it well today. I’m very pleased with how we’ve played and everything about the performance. It’s as close to an international as you can get, so we’re happy.”
Sale now host Rynard Elstadt’s Toulouse this weekend and will need their Du Preez selection to fire again if they are continue their momentum in the tournament.