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Muller looking at Ulster to rid himself of World Cup woes

Guinness PRO12 Editor

7 Nov 2011

Beware a Springbok scorned this year in the RaboDirect PRO12 as Johann Muller looks to put his World Cup nightmare firmly behind him with domestic bliss in an Ulster shirt this campaign.

The 31-year-old headed to New Zealand with high hopes of helping South Africa retain their crown, but his trip quickly turned sour.

As Wales sent a nervous shiver down the Springboks’ spine in a 17-16 win for the southern hemisphere side, Muller was getting his only taste of action in New Zealand.

The giant lock came off the bench and enjoyed just 36 minutes of action, before a hamstring injury put paid to any hopes he had of starring again in the land of the long white cloud, South Africa eventually exiting at the quarter-final stage thanks to a 11-9 defeat to Australia.

And things didn’t improve as Muller returned to Northern Ireland, retaking the captain’s armband as the Ulstermen lost 24-17 to Scarlets, their fourth straight league defeat.

But their fortunes took an upturn this weekend as Connacht were convincingly put to the sword in a 22-3 triumph and Muller, who picked up a knock during that match, is just happy he can finally give the club his full, undivided attention.

“The World Cup was a bit disappointing for me personally as the injury after week one really put an end to any of the hopes I had,” said Muller.

“And I think it was my 13th or 14th trip to New Zealand as I have been there and played there countless of times before so it wasn’t really anything new to me.

“But it was still a really good experience and I did enjoy it, even if it was disappointing that we exited at the quarter-final stage.

“But when you are away it is hard not to keep an eye on what is happening back home, especially for me being captain of Ulster.

“I would keep an eye out for the results and I would be on the phone every week and checking the score every five minutes just trying to stay as involved as I could.

“There was always going to be pressure on us guys who returned from the World Cup to turn our fortunes around but now we are definitely heading in the right direction.”

Muller’s claim that his side are moving in the right direction couldn’t be better timed as while provincial rivals Leinster and Munster have been lifting both domestic and European silverware in recent years, Ulster’s own trophy cabinet has been untouched since winning the Celtic League in 2006.

And while Muller insists he will do all he can to lift a trophy in his time in Northern Ireland, the second-rower has asked for patience from the fans.

“As a whole group we are very excited about what we have right now and we want to go forward and become a better club and I think we can do that,” he added.

“We are getting there and we want to win a trophy and while we aren’t there right now we are on our way.

“It is all about the process and taking steps in the right direction and we want to do better each year and while it might not happen this year, a final is certainly not out of the question and that is what we are pushing for.”