ULSTER CAPTAIN JOHANN MULLER has tipped his team-mates to absorb the harsh lessons of the past when they go toe-to-toe with Munster this weekend.
Sunday’s trip to Thomond Park marks Ulster’s return to the quarter-final stages for a second successive year, a significant achievement for a province who hadn’t escaped the pool stages since winning the tournament in 1999.
There’s no debating their opponents’ credentials at European level, but Muller is confident that his side are no longer the knockout novices of last season when they lost 23-13 away to eventual finalists Northampton Saints.
Added to that is their performance in this year’s so-called “Pool of Death” where they scored home wins against Leicester and Clermont Auvergne and then very nearly pulled off a shock on the road in France.
“The only way you get experience in competitions like this is from playing games like last year and learning from the tough experiences,” said Muller (ERCRugby).
“During the last three years, and especially the last two, we have played in a lot of big games and the experience we’ve gained against the likes of Biarritz Olympique and Northampton Saints away last year, and Clermont Auvergne this year is huge.
We were leading at half-time against Northampton last year but in the second half, our first phase went to pieces. We have to take those lessons on board.
We’ve learnt a lot and it’s about making sure we don’t make the same mistakes again. But we’ve now got that experience of a quarter-final and know what it takes.