Ulster boss Mark Anscombe has called for professionalism ahead of Ulster’s first home game following the tragic death of their young star Nevin Spence.
Speaking in the build-up to Ulster's RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Connacht at Ravenhill on Friday night, Anscombe said: “It is our first game back home since the passing of Neve.
“And there’s a lot happened in that time, and there’s been some difficult times for the players. We’ve also got to be professional in what we’re about to do, and his memory will never die and always be in the team.
“That fact is that if you just use emotion, you’re not going to get the results. So we’ve got to control the emotion and prepare and be professional in how we get ready for each game. Then we’ll do a good service to his memory.”
Anscombe was pleased with how his players responded to Spence’s death with victory in Cardiff last week.
“To go to Cardiff and score seven tries in a victory like that, you’ve got to be pleased,” said Anscombe.
“But there’s still areas that we’ve got to be better and our challenge is to keep lifting the bar. Is to keep challenging ourselves and to be as good as we possibly can be" - Mark Anscombe
“But there’s still areas that we’ve got to be better and our challenge is to keep lifting the bar. Is to keep challenging ourselves and to be as good as we possibly can be.
“To do this we’ll keep asking questions, and the players getting opportunities will go out there and do their business. And hopefully that will gain them selection.”
Connacht’s victory over Leinster last week means the element of surprise is gone and the Northerners’ boss realises the threat that the Westerners pose to his side.
“[The element of surprise] is well gone. In our last encounter with them they beat us, down there last year. So I don’t think there is anyone in our squad who is underestimating what they’re capable of doing,” said Anscombe.
“I think you would go a long way back in the record books to find a time when someone scored five tries against Leinster.”
The Ulster boss believes Connacht will offer his team a fine test ahead of their Heineken Cup opener against Castres Olympique on Friday week.
He said: “To go into the competitions like the Heineken Cup you want to have good preparation and it doesn’t come any better than playing Connacht and they’re going to test us.
"They’re going to be physical, they’ve got some good ball players, they’ve got good experience. They’re going to be confident. It’s not going to get any tougher.”