Stuart McCloskey praises Dan McFarland's impact since taking over as Ulster coach

Dan McFarland's Ulster side are on course to qualify for the Champions Cup knockout stages for the second successive year
Dan McFarland took over after a turbulent 2017-18 campaign for Ulster

Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey has praised the impact coach Dan McFarland has made since arriving at the province at the beginning of last season.

McCloskey delivered a man-of-the-match display as his side edged out Harlequins to claim their third European win of the season on Saturday.

"If you look at where we were when Dan came in, it's night and day," he said.

"I don't think we go to any team now and fear that we will get beaten by a lot. I think we can win on any day."

McFarland's appointment came after the province had endured their most torrid season in recent memory.

The 2017-18 campaign saw Ulster revoke the contracts of players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding after the duo were cleared of rape following a high profile trial while head coach Les Kiss left the club following a poor run of form with his successor Jono Gibbes departing at the end of the season.

Under McFarland Ulster have taken notable strides forward, last season enjoying their first European knockout game in five years along with reaching the Pro14 semi-final.

"A year before he came in we were struggling with quite a lot of things, obviously it wasn't all within our control but I think we've really come on," said McCloskey, who made his Ulster debut in 2014.

"We're not quite the finished article, probably not even close to what Dan wants us to be, but we're definitely moving in the right direction."

Ulster's victory over Harlequins put them top of Champions Cup Pool Three with three games remaining.

Following the win, McFarland expressed his belief that his side still had much to improve on before they could be considered to be a side who should be expected to reach the last eight of the European competition on a regular basis.

'Improvement doesn't feel quick'

Having qualified for the quarter-finals last season, the northern province are well placed to repeat the feat albeit with three games left to play.

The strong start to their European campaign is further evidence of the improvement seen in the squad since McFarland's arrival.

"When you're in the environment it [the improvement] doesn't feel quick," said McCloskey.

"But I suppose it probably looks quick from the outside."

Ulster meet Harlequins in London next week before facing Clermont away in January.