Stephen Ferris insists the Play-Off system has been a great addition to the Magners League, even though his Ulster side look set to miss out on a top-four spot.
Ulster currently sit eighth in the league standings, nine points off the final Play-Off place and a further eight points behind league leaders Leinster.
And, although Ferris admits that his side face an uphill struggle to sneak into the semi-finals, he believes the new format has had a massive impact on the intensity and competitiveness of the Magners League as a whole.
“It’s great that the Play-Off system has been brought in,” said Ferris, who was today named in an extended squad for Saturday’s home tie with Cardiff Blues having faced the same opposition in the Welsh capital last week.
“You’re not just fighting for top spot, you’re fighting for fourth to give yourself an opportunity to win the league.
“I think the league’s been far more competitive this year. You saw the Blues fielding a more-or-less full-strength team minus Jamie Roberts and that was the same for us, so I think it’s been fantastic for the league.”
While Ferris describes the Play-Offs as a fantastic addition and a great idea, he is far less glowing about his team’s performance against the Blues six days ago.
Ulster were beaten 19-9 at the Cardiff City Stadium, allowing the Blues to jump above them in the table.
Fortunately for Ferris and co, they have an immediate chance to address the balance at Ravenhill.
“We were pretty disappointed that we came away with nothing out of the game but I don’t think it was a great spectacle for the supporters. Both teams played within themselves,” added Ferris.
“In fairness to them, they had a few more opportunities to put the ball over the cross bar which they didn’t take and that gave us an opportunity to maybe steal some points out of the game.
“We’ve definitely got a lot to improve on, especially in the set piece.
“You take every game as it comes when you’re in the position that we’re in at the minute.
“We can’t let Connacht creep up on us but hopefully we’ll get a win this week and get some momentum for the rest of the season.”