Ulster poised to reap reward of renaissance fired by Humphreys
Ulster meet Castres today at Stade Pierre Antoine not having won a tournament match in France in 14 previous visits. Victory and a home quarter-final could finally swing the competition Ulster’s way and be the making of Anscombe. Regardless of what message comes out of Ulster, comparisons will be made with McLaughlin’s 2012 final and Humphreys’ call. One thing the Kiwi has done well has been to cement the team and today, with a raft of injuries including Bowe, Stephen Ferris, Luke Marshall, Muller and Williams, that will need expression.
“His job as coach is really to galvanise the squad,” explains Wilson. “Mark has been very good at bringing everyone together, getting the best out players and making sure they don’t rest on their laurels.
“He’s a good man manager and I think that’s a lot of the battle as a head coach. Generally he’s a very easy guy to get on with but whenever he needs to come down on us like a ton of bricks he will, whether it’s at half-time or a Monday morning video session. You don’t want to be like that every week or it could be negative but whenever he needs to he’s not afraid to read the riot act. He does have that ruthless streak. He’s also the perfectionist. He’s very rarely said to us this season ‘that’s a very good performance’.”
An exacting coach, who is hard to please. You’d imagine Dr David Humphreys MBE would, overseeing his work, approve.
Important dates in Ulster's rise
2006 – David Humphreys retires.
2009 – Humphreys appointed Operations Director.
2009-10 – Shane Logan new Ulster CEO (First win on English soil v Bath).
2010-11 – Ruan Pienaar, Johan Muller, John Afoa join (First quarter-final since 1999).
2011-12 – First Heineken Cup final in 13 years.
2012-13 – Mark Anscombe appointed coach.
Players in this season: Tommy Bowe (Ospreys); Roger Wilson (Northampton); Niall O’Connor (Connacht); Rob Herring (Western Province); Michael Heaney (Doncaster Knights); Seán Doyle (Southern Districts); Nick Williams (Aironi).
Players out: Conor Gaston (London Irish), Ian Whitten (Exeter Chiefs); Willie Faloon (Connacht); Pedrie Wannenburg (Castres); Andy Kyriacou (Cardiff Blues); Ian Humphreys (London Irish;) Tim Barker (Rainey Old Boys); Simon Danielli (Retired); Stefan Terblanche (Retired); James McKinney (Rotherham); Jerry Cronin (Doncaster Knights); Nevin Spence (Deceased).