Following Ulster’s narrow 13-16 win over Ospreys, Paul Marshall has called for a step up in performance ahead of the Munster tie at Ravenhill on Friday night.
The scrumhalf was Ulster’s match winner at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday night after scoring the decisive try in the 75th minute to clinch a rare victory in Wales. Reflecting on the win, Marshall said: “It was a scrappy game and both teams didn’t really play well. We didn’t threaten enough in attack but I thought we scrambled well in attack.”
The half back’s sharp reactions were the difference between the two sides as he dived over with just five minutes remaining, but he was quick to praise his team mates. “I didn’t have much to do for the try; I just squeezed over the line when John [Afoa] was brought down just short. It was a good team try and it shows what we are capable of producing. We didn’t play very well but I thought we showed great character in the second half and the most important thing is that we got the win and it keeps us on track,” he said.
Marshall, who was an unused member of the Ireland squad that toured New Zealand in June, underwent surgery on an elbow injury during the summer which has affected his pre-season preparations. But he is feeling fit and is delighted to be back in action: “Injury wise I feel good; my elbow isn’t giving me much trouble at all. It was good for me to get back on the pitch. I got 20 minutes last week and another 40 on Saturday night so it’s good to catch up a bit with the players who have had more game time.”
He admits Ulster will have to improve vastly if they are to beat Munster at Ravenhill on Friday evening. “Next week will be a really tough encounter as all the inter-pros are. I’m assuming they will come up to Belfast with their full contingent of Internationals and we will have a couple more back as well. We will have to be firing on all cylinders if we are to come away with another win, a performance like the one on Saturday night won’t be good enough. It’s our first inter-pro of the season so it’s exciting for the fans, but also the players,” said the 27 year old.
With Connor Murray likely to line up for Munster on Friday night, Marshall may get the ideal opportunity to stake his claim for a call up for the Autumn Internationals, but he insists his priority at this stage is getting in the Ulster team and is not worrying about Ireland selection.
“I’m expecting Conor Murray to play on Friday night and he’s currently the no1 scrumhalf in Ireland so it will be a big test if I’m selected. But the main thing for me is getting more game time with Ulster. Blane McIlroy and Michael Heaney have been playing well so my focus first and foremost is to fight for a place in the Ulster team,” said Marshall.