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Fitzpatrick expects Ulster improvements

Guinness PRO12 Editor

23 Dec 2011

Former Ulster prop Justin Fitzpatrick insists it’s only a matter of time before his old side hits top form after three straight wins in all competitions.

The Ravenhill outfit have endured a slow start to the season and currently lie eighth in the RaboDirect PRO12 ahead of the Boxing Day clash with Leinster.

And despite not yet being at their best in the back-to-back wins over Aironi as well as the 24-17 victory against the Scarlets, Fitzpatrick – who won 26 caps for Ireland between 1998 and 2003 – believes those successes will give them the confidence to get back into play-off contention.

“I certainly wouldn’t be pressing any panic buttons as all the ingredients are there for Ulster to do well,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“As we’ve seen over the last three weeks when they get it right the results fall into place and Ulster have now got that bit of confidence from their last two games in Europe.

“You don’t go from not playing particularly well to playing fantastic rugby.

“The important thing is they are getting the results. This makes it much easier to build on once you’ve got some wins in the back pocket and it also, of course, boosts confidence.

“It’s been a tricky season with the World Cup having its impact but I really don’t think it’s all doom and gloom and they are more than capable of turning things around.

“I’d be confident things will only improve for them in terms of performance.”

After the clash with RaboDirect PRO12 leaders Leinster on Monday, Ulster face another huge test against reigning champions Munster at Ravenhill on January 30.

And Fitzpatrick believes double derby success would be the perfect springboard to get Ulster’s season on track.

“Ulster definitely have a harder route than last season if they are going to make the top four in the League,” he added.

“They will also need a certain amount of luck with results elsewhere but the reality is that they have to continue their winning mojo and that starts with Leinster and Munster.

“If they pull off those wins then they’re definitely going in the right direction and then they can head towards the next project against the Tigers.”