Stephen Ferris has backed Ulster to defeat Leinster tonight in the standout game of this weekend’s URC fixtures.
Both sides enter the game joint top of the table with two bonus point wins in their opening two games. Last weekend, Ulster edged Scarlets in a thriller at Wales, while Leinster made light work of Benetton at the RDS.
This game will be a huge test for Ulster. Leinster have been the dominant team in the league for years, with last season their first trophyless year since 2018.
Ulster have been the bridesmaids too often. They have shown signs of individual promise, with impressive victories through the season, but when the silverware is awarded in May, their name is not on the trophy.
Speaking on The Buildup with Ladbrokes, Stephen Ferris claims Dan McFarland’s side have what it takes to get a result over Leinster in the Kingspan.
“I do fancy Ulster. There is just an air of confidence. John Cooney 30 points at the weekend, couple of tries, 20 points off the boot, bang in form.
McCloskey a vocal point up the middle, Marcus Rea was fantastic at the weekend in the backrow. The second rows they like to chop and change but Alan O’Connor, flipping heck.
That guy just keeps on going and going. I think he just turned 30 so he has a few years left in the tank, and the front row I don’t think shouldn’t be troubled too much especially at home.
If Ulster can get a bit of dominance in their maul like they do against nearly every team, then they’ll be certainly favourites for the match.”
One player that Stephen Ferris said would be crucial to Ulster’s chances of victory is Stuart McCloskey. The centre has started the season on fire with two huge performances over Connacht and the Scarlets.
This weekend he will face a huge step up against Leinster, with Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose waiting for him in blue, and Stephen Ferris argues that he will have to bring his performance to another level.
“He’s playing out of his skin, ran over Jonathan Davies in the first half, set the tone. I talked about big game players stepping up to the plate and he certainly has to do it this weekend.
Two fantastic games against good opposition, but not world-class opposition. Now he’s going to be up against world-class opposition, he has to do it three weeks on the bounce.
He has to absolutely explode and come out of the traps.”
Leinster will have Johnny Sexton and James Ryan on the bench, and have named a very strong starting XV captained by Gary Ringrose.