Bill Johnston: Ex-Munster man says memories of Thomond trouncing will fire up Ulster

Bill Johnston attempts to get past Maxime Mbanda during Ulster's win over Zebre last weekend
Johnston (right) made his second appearance for Ulster since his move from Munster in last weekend's win over Zebre

Ulster fly-half Bill Johnston says the team's 64-7 hammering by Munster 14 months ago "adds fuel to the fire" for Saturday's meeting of the Irish interprovincial rivals in Limerick.

Johnston, 22, was part of Munster's squad last season although he didn't feature in the Thomond Park trouncing.

"It has been used. I wasn't involved in this side but when you see a scoreline like that," nods the Tipperary native.

Johnston played his second Ulster game in last weekend's win over Zebre.

His debut came in the nine-try thumping by Cheetahs in early October and says Ulster's two subsequent wins over Cardiff Blues and Zebre show the squad's determination to regroup after reverses.

'You don't like that kind of scoreline'

He is confident that memories of last year's mauling by Munster will provoke a similar response this weekend.

"I could see the same about our Cheetahs game in Bloemfontein. If we had the chance to go back there, we would be so fired up to take the scalp right back.

"It [last year's Munster game] has been mentioned but in a positive manner. You don't like to see that kind of scoreline - especially against interpro rivals."

Johnston admits that a few Ulster colleagues have been quizzing him on his former team-mates this week but he dismisses the notion that he has any particular inside knowledge on Johann van Graan's squad.

"They have a new attack coach in Stephen Larkham so I'm not sure what they are trying to do on that side of the ball.

"They are the same Munster of old. Really well organised, really physical. They are going to try and slow down our ball and back themselves in the air.

"There's no real secrets about what they are trying to bring. It's just about the quality of players that they have."

Jordi Murphy and Iain Henderson during Ireland training last month
Jordi Murphy and Iain Henderson are in line to return for Ulster after their World Cup duties

Both sides are expected to include members of Ireland's World Cup squad with Iain Henderson, Jordi Murphy and Jacob Stockdale set to bolster Ulster's line-up.

"The international players have been reintegrated over the last few days and they are really excited to get going again," adds Johnston.

"[With] the leadership of Hendry and Jordi up front and obviously the x-factor of Jacob in the backline, they are the kind of players who really stand up in the kind of big games coming up.

"It's really the kind of crescendo of the season. You have your [opening] league games and then in Ireland you have the interpro games which spice things up before you head into Europe."