Rory Best wants to be part of best front row in Europe

By Richard PetrieBBC Sport NI
Rory Best
Rory Best has detected an increased intensity in Ulster's training

Rory Best says the Ulster front row is striving to be the best in Europe as they prepare to take on Leicester in Friday's Heineken Cup Pool 4 game.

"We want to be the best and there is no better way to test yourself up front than by playing Leicester," said Best.

"They are the best exponents of setpieces in terms of scrums, mauls and lineouts but we feel we have a lot of quality too and we are confident.

"Their pack had the upper hand at Welford Road but we can reverse that."

The Ireland hooker is full of praise for the role played by his front row partner John Afoa since his arrival from New Zealand.

"John is a quality player and has had no trouble settling in.

"It's an honour for us to have him and he brings so much to the team, not just in terms of scrummaging, but in the way he plays and goes about his business."

Best has detected an increase in the intensity of training this week, which he hopes will result in a "big performance" by the players on Friday night.

"Everyone is putting in that little bit extra, whether they are likely to be in the starting XV, on the bench, or not involved in the matchday squad at all.

"There is always a bit of extra incentive when an Irish province faces an English Premiership club, especially when the Leicester squad includes so many of the players who were part of England's Six Nations success last year.

"To beat them would be massive but they are a good defensive side and we can't afford to give the ball away cheaply.

"It all comes down to tight margins in Europe and we have to do to them what they did to us over there by denying them a bonus point on our own patch.

"We have notched up 10 points from our last two games in the PRO 12 so confidence is high and we believe we have the players who can handle big games against quality opposition.

"The match is sold out and you can't underestimate the big part the crowd have to play.

"There is an extra thrill in performing in front of your home fans and they will provide a massive boost for us."

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin
Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin is plotting the downfall of Leicester

His sentiments were echoed by Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin.

"Ravenhill has been good to us in Europe in recent seasons and we're looking forward to getting the crowd behind us again," said McLaughlin.

"Leicester are a very tough physical unit and will be difficult to break down so we have to be patient.

"It's going to be a tight game and we're keeping our feet firmly on the ground - we know how difficult it's going to be and we have to be at our very best.

"We have been looking at little things we can improve on from the game at Welford Road and we have to put pressure on them in key areas of the pitch.

"We must try to play in the right areas and keep them out of our '22' as much as possible.

"The scrum promises to be a great contest and it's one I'm looking forward to.

"First and foremost we want to win, but if we can stop Leicester from earning a bonus point that would give us an advantage going into the final pool games," he added.

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