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Mulvihill challenges Cardiff Blues to step up physically

Blues News | 30th October 2020

John Mulvihill has challenged his side to step up physically as they prepare to welcome Ulster to Rodney Parade on Monday.

A gutsy performance and three tries were not enough for Cardiff Blues to come away with points at Munster last week, as they suffered their first defeat of the season. Meanwhile, Dan McFarland’s side will travel to south Wales following an unbeaten start to their campaign.

Mulvihill is expecting to face similar challenges against last year’s finalists, as his side look to maintain their winning streak at the home of the Dragons.

“They have some good players and they’ll keep coming at you. We need to be physical this week and really step up,” said the head coach.

“Ulster are a very good team and they’re lucky enough to only lose three or four players to the national team. They’ve got a number of very good foreigners as well.

“Interestingly enough, they only won one more game than we did last year but they played in the final and they play in Conference A.

“They’re quite settled and when you have a pretty settled team you can build some momentum and training doesn’t have to be as long as things can be a bit sharper.

“They’ll come with massive physicality against us and will try to maul us to death, and whoever plays 10 - whether it’s Ian Madigan or Billy Burns - they both have very good short kicking games.

“They have a couple of big centres and they’re an all-round solid team.

“I think all the Irish sides are exactly the same when they’re around 10 meters out, and the others have different traits.

“We expect John Cooney, the number nine, will kick a fair bit. They’ll drive line-outs, they’ll box kick and go contestable.

“When they’re on the front foot, you have someone like Marcell Coetzee who will come around the corner and try to get over the gain-line.”

Last week’s encounter kicked off a series of four consecutive Monday night fixtures for Wales’ Capital Region.

Mulvihill admits it’s taking time to adapt to the new working week but is happy with his side’s preparations and work ethic heading into round four of Guinness PRO14 action.

"It felt like today [Friday] was our day two, and that our week is just getting started," explained the Australian.

"So it’s a little bit different, especially after coming back from an away game. We have four Monday games on the bounce, with two being at home and two away.

"Our preparations will be a little bit different for each game. 

"After the away game in Munster, we probably got in at around two on Tuesday morning, so the boys had Tuesday and Wednesday off, while the staff did the reviews on Wednesday.

"Our A team also played on Wednesday, so we probably didn’t start our preparations properly until we had a clarity day yesterday.

"Today was our big day on the training field, and in usual circumstances we’d have one more training session. But we’ll have tomorrow off, a captain’s run on Sunday and then into it.

"Next week, because we don’t have the travel factor, we’ll play on Monday, have Tuesday off and then start our week on Wednesday, and we’ll get more training in on those weeks.

"It’s different and a bit weird playing on a Monday, because I think most of the coaches and players are still trying to catch up on what day we’re on.

"But we’ll get through it, hopefully get some good results and then go back to our usual Friday, Saturday and Sunday matches."