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McLaughlin warns Ulster not to take Aironi lightly

Guinness PRO12 Editor

14 Dec 2011

Coach Brian McLaughlin insists Ulster will not be taking RaboDirectPRO12 rivals Aironi lightly when his side step into the cauldron of the Stadio Brianteo on Saturday.

The Irish province have posted a strong start to their Heineken Cup campaign with two wins from three matches, including a 31-10 bonus-point triumph over the Italians back at Ravenhill.

But with Pool Four challengers ASM Clermont Auvergne and Leicester Tigers also flying high, the 1999 champions cannot afford to rest on their laurels when they face off against Rowland Phillips’ outfit.

Aironi may be yet to get off the mark in the competition, but they pushed Ulster hard in the corresponding RaboDirect PRO12 fixture in Monza – a 25-19 loss in September.

And after seeing the Italians announce themselves on the continental stage last season with a 28-27 victory over Biarritz Olympique, McLaughlin admits Ulster will need to be on top of their game.

“We got the five points last time but we know it is going to be exceptionally tough over there,” he said.

“They are more than capable of one big game – and they have already proved that in this competition – so we just have to make sure it doesn't happen against us.

“We know they beat Biarritz Olympique in the Heineken Cup last year and we are under no illusions it will be a tough game.

“Aironi are more than capable of turning us over at home if we aren’t on the money, so we know we have to go there and do a job.

“We know this week is a whole new ball game and we are only at half-time and we have to go there and do the same but we know what they are capable of achieving.

“We just have to make sure that when we get the ball we are clinical and play in the right areas of the pitch, if we don't do that they will cause us problems over there.

“In the first half at Ravenhill we played exceptionally well at times but we know we are not the finished article yet.”