John Mulvihill has emphasised the importance of on-field leaders, as Cardiff Blues look to bounce back from last week's defeat to Glasgow Warriors when they take on Ulster on Saturday.
Wales’ Capital Region travel to the Northern Irish capital for a crucial Guinness PRO14 encounter, before they face back-to-back European fixtures against defending English champions, Saracens.
Despite the festive derbies also coming up over the next month, the Cardiff Blues head coach insists his side won’t look past the Belfast clash on Saturday,
“Six of the next eight games will be away, but we’ll have to look at one week at a time. If you spend too much time looking at what’s coming up, you probably won’t get out of bed in the morning,” said Mulvihill.
“This week will be important once again and then we can park the PRO14 before we start again, back into Europe.
“We have a strong leadership group still involved in the programme but our on-field leadership needs to step up this week. Ulster will give us a lot of opportunities so we need to make sure we’re in the right positions to take them.
“I’m looking for the likes of Jarrod Evans and Steven Shingler to take responsibility when they’re on the field, as well as boys like Josh Turnbull who will step up to become an even more important player than he already is.
“You’ll always get leadership from Olly [Robinson] but I’d hope that guys like Tomos Williams and Dillon Lewis, who have had Test match rugby recently, will bring that form and intensity to our game as well.
Ulster currently sit in third place in Conference B, but suffered a defeat to Scarlets in Llanelli last week.
However, Australian Mulvihill is under no illusions about the threat posed by Dan McFarland’s side.
The head coach said: “Ulster will be a tough test at home. They’ve got a really good back row, and they use guys like Marcell Coetzee, Stuart McCloskey and Henry Speight to get over the gain line.
“They’re a real workman-like team, they work hard for each other and they might not be as affected by the Irish players, but will have some to come back into the group.
“Again, it’s going to be tough, but we’re going there to win the game this week and we’ll be desperate to stay in-touch with everyone and put ourselves in a position where we can over-take teams during the festive period.”