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McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Talk about the men in white, and everything Ulster!!

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McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby Kanbei » Thu Mar 14, 2019 11:59 pm

Was at the Season Ticket Holders event tonight, here is what happened;

On being transparent and his use of social media
Petrie: Has tried to be as visible as possible, doesn't want to just sit in the office all the time, want people to know me. Understands that I am the focal point of the club and needs to understand that Ulster is more than just the professional game

What has he learnt so far?
Petrie: How much it matters to people here. In Edinburgh it mattered but it was more at the side. Here, the club is in the middle of everything. The Club hasn't performed on or off the field in the past few years and wants to make people proud.

Why leave Edinburgh?
Petrie: In Edinburgh he was just looking after the professional game, broader role here. Gets to influence the grassroots from top to bottom. Club has huge heritage and potential and can feel that there is a great platform here and there is a great warmth to the club. Feels there has been a total turnabout now, wanting to see Edinburgh lose!

Improving grassroots
Petrie: No easy answer, has to improve point of access for everyone to play and that means creating opportunities, not necessarily just via leagues or teams. Has to create a clear pathway for clubs and schools to the Ulster senior team, not enough has been done in the last number of years, simply can't miss any talent coming through. People want to see something they can be proud of and in this case the professional team drives everything.

Business balance of Academy players v Star Players
Petrie: Signing star players is not off the table. Though very difficult to sign them in current environment due to inflation in player salaries, have to build a competitive and sustainable squad. Kind of judged more on your 2nd XV than your 1st XV, this where we have struggled in recent years. Have to balance having a competitive squad now and planning for future.

What's your vision?
Petrie: Success is seeing the team winning, with the stadium packed every week while everyone is interested and engaged. We cannot buy success, foundations are important and there will be a few bumps on the road but we have to build for the future.

Visibility of Ulster Rugby (New tv deal)
Petrie: One of the main differences between Edinburgh and here, Edinburgh were hidden in Scotland on BBC Alba whereas Ulster were on BBC2 every week. BBCNI did a great job in promoting the game here but feels Premier Sports are doing a good job. It was a league decision and the league felt the move was required to help facilitate other things.

On not "reopening old wounds"
Petrie: Understands that the whole situation was highly divisive and not an easy situation. Ulster were on the front and back pages for all the wrong reasons. Has to draw a line in the sand, move the club forward and make it all about the sport and the rugby, not anything else.

What his priorities are
Petrie: Has to move the club into a growth cycle, have to stop worrying about being insular and cutting costs. Set out the way forward which everyone can be proud of. This goes through the entire organisation be it the professional team, academy, schools, clubs and the business. It's a big challenge and a change, took him a month to find out what a "fleg" was

Are you loving it?
Petrie: Understand it's not a 9-5 job, brought all his family over here to ensure that it's a success here. His listening and understanding is nearly over and we should see a change of pace from him soon and it will be quick.

Enjoying being a head coach?
McFarland: Has been a steep learning curve, he is the one accountable for all the decisions for the first time in his career but it is absolutely brilliant and is loving it.

Are you further on than you thought?
McFarland: At the start of the season there were no expectations or limits but is pleased to make the quarter final and has achieved what I wanted. Have to understand that the Conference we are in is tough, 3 Champions Cup quarter finalists, semi-finalists from last year and a resurgent Treviso. Have to keep winning.

On Squad rotation
McFarland: Lots of injuries early on which gave us a great sight of upcoming players. Gave good idea of who needed to be retained and who to recruit. Need to have sustainability, other clubs pay for trophies, that is not us.

Have the Academy players surprised you?
McFarland: Yes, knew nothing about them before he came here. Understand that alot of them did well in the underage teams but that is no guarantee that they would make the transition.

Balance between NIQs, IQs and Ulster players in squad
McFarland: Essential that core is people who understand the culture, doesn't necessarily mean they have to be Ulster born but obviously helps

How do you rate the current squad?
McFarland: Need to build depth, there is obviously a difference in our Champions Cup squad and when our internationals aren't available but feels the last month has shown an improvement in this regard.

On Henderson Injury
McFarland: Hendy has a remarkable talent of being injured, coming back early and being man of the match in the next game. Won't know for sure about the QF until the week of it.

Are you looking forward to the QF?
McFarland: Focus is on Kings at the moment, it's too important a game not to look at. Coaches have started doing a bit of pre-planning for the match but the players are completely focussed on Kings. The QF is a brilliant opportunity to play the best team in the world in a big stadium

Petrie: personally can't wait, can't believe it sold out as quickly as it did. Initial estimates are 15k-20k Ulster fans are travelling.

Support form the IRFU
Petrie: There is a negative view of the IRFU up here but personally it has been all positive. He thinks that people think Leinster might be seen as the preferred province but feels this comes from so many Leinster players on central contracts, allows them to invest elsewhere. Have to build a collaborative relationship with the IRFU but he is here to represent Ulster and fight our corner.

Then came questions from the floor;

On Burns not being to the required standard compared to Jackson
Petrie: Competition at half back is key, have to remember that Burns is still a young player and has alot of learning and development to do and he definitely has the potential to be in the world class bracket. We need to be patient.

How do D4 get involved with the decision making process?

Petrie: in recruitment they are in constant conversations with Nucifora. Of course there is influence from Dublin, they have to have a successful national team. Though already he has had many robust conversations with him

McFarland: In selection, IRFU wants Ulster to be successful, Ulster doing well means Ireland players doing well and will also help everyone fiscally. He wants hungry, young players to represent Ireland and is in constant conversation with Schmidt about when to play and rest players.

Are IQ players being signed just because they are IQ'd?
Petrie: Not being forced to sign any IQ player, have to bring as many Irish players through as possible

Will Kingspan Stadium ever return to being Ravenhill?
Petrie: Place is still Ravenhill at heart, even Kingspan realise that. There has to be a balance with the commercial needs of the club. Naming rights bring huge benefits but of course there is a need to protect the heritage of the ground and maintain it's heart and soul.

Outreach to other parts of the province
Petrie: Although we are based in Belfast we can't be a Belfast centric club, have to get out of the bubble of Belfast and we have to go to them. Have to encourage other parts of the province, will see more open training sessions around the province. Great to see the busloads of fans coming from all over the province to watch the games.

A Team trip to USA vs needs of 1B Clubs
Petrie: Feel we have a good relationship with the clubs and realise it's a time of important games with resources stretched for all. Academy players will go on the trip but won't be picking any club players to limit impact on the clubs.

Any chance of a return for Jackson or Olding?
Petrie: Not considering it, line has been drawn in the sand. We are investing in Billy Burns. We are looking forward, not back.

On Carter, Milasinovich & opinion on Jack McGrath
McFarland: Feels McGrath is a great player (but says no more). Been looking for a 2nd row, Treadwell has played every game this year and O'Connor has moreorless done the same. Could say it's been lucky that they have been available all season. Henderson is one of the best 2nd rows in Ireland but naturally means he is away. Carter is a great signing with many Aussie and Brumbie caps, describes him as a "nuts and bolts" 2nd row and will add alot of leadership experience. Milasinovich brings something we don't have, in that he is a big prop. Not necessarily required for a prop but is helpful. Primarily a tight head but can cover loose head, will bring added depth to the squad.

On the Pro14 future
Petrie: Understands there will definitely be 4 Welsh teams next season. Interesting one is South Africa, feels hey have brought something different to the league and there is talk of adding more teams from there. If they do it will not be more like the Stormers or Bulls than weaker teams. USA teams are not happening anytime soon. Everyone wants to see a league structure that makes sense.

On Ulster's financial model
Petrie: Run on a break even budget, have gone into cash reserves in previous years but we can't cut too much as that ends up in a never ending downward spiral. Need to get into a growth cycle again and we have been constrained financially but the business plan is good and is achievable and sustainable in the long term.

On signing Southern Hemisphere players on "loans"
McFarland: Budget constraints stopped us from keeping Speight longer, was needed early on because of injuries. Speight had a big impact and is still in the top 10 of defenders beaten in the Pro14. Need to have value from Southern Hemisphere players.

Current Injuries
McFarland: Addison has a back injury and is back with Ulster, on a progressive plan and he is improving but no return date. Gilroy's back was a complex issue and no date has been set yet. On Luke Marshall he is back training and is ripping it up, is wearing the white bib meaning "non-contact" he then proceeded to take out another white bib player.

On Rory Best
Petrie: Great leader and great experience, hasn't announced anything officially yet. But thinks his quotes earlier in the week were only referring to his international career.
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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby Dave » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:21 am

Thanks for that Kanbei.

Petrie thinking Billy will be world class? Oh dear.

Don't know why he says PJ/Olding is divisive. Everyone wants them back apart from the odd troll.
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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby Columbo » Fri Mar 15, 2019 3:48 pm

Dave wrote:Don't know why he says PJ/Olding is divisive. Everyone wants them back apart from the odd troll.

True, I can't think of a less divisive subject among Ulster fans..

Thanks Kanbei, interesting. On the Burns / Paddy point, I'm a defender of Burns, and hope that he can keep improving, but in all truth, he's nowhere near the same level as PJ. Not even close.

I like what I hear about McFarland, he seems cut from the same cloth as Schmidt - a "nice" guy, who will nonetheless cut you from his squad tomorrow if he reckons its for the best. The "who to be retained, who to be recruited" comment gives some more context to the spate of retirements / transfers.. More importantly I like what I see on the pitch - the transformation in our set piece and mauling has been amazing.
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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby pwrmoore » Fri Mar 15, 2019 4:15 pm

Columbo wrote:
Dave wrote:Don't know why he says PJ/Olding is divisive. Everyone wants them back apart from the odd troll.

True, I can't think of a less divisive subject among Ulster fans..

Thanks Kanbei, interesting. On the Burns / Paddy point, I'm a defender of Burns, and hope that he can keep improving, but in all truth, he's nowhere near the same level as PJ. Not even close.

I like what I hear about McFarland, he seems cut from the same cloth as Schmidt - a "nice" guy, who will nonetheless cut you from his squad tomorrow if he reckons its for the best. The "who to be retained, who to be recruited" comment gives some more context to the spate of retirements / transfers.. More importantly I like what I see on the pitch - the transformation in our set piece and mauling has been amazing.


I'd guess it's not so much that it's divisive amongst Ulster supporters as that it carries with it the risk that the protests could restart if they were brought back and he wants to avoid that.
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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby Dave » Fri Mar 15, 2019 5:06 pm

pwrmoore wrote:
Columbo wrote:
Dave wrote:Don't know why he says PJ/Olding is divisive. Everyone wants them back apart from the odd troll.

True, I can't think of a less divisive subject among Ulster fans..

Thanks Kanbei, interesting. On the Burns / Paddy point, I'm a defender of Burns, and hope that he can keep improving, but in all truth, he's nowhere near the same level as PJ. Not even close.

I like what I hear about McFarland, he seems cut from the same cloth as Schmidt - a "nice" guy, who will nonetheless cut you from his squad tomorrow if he reckons its for the best. The "who to be retained, who to be recruited" comment gives some more context to the spate of retirements / transfers.. More importantly I like what I see on the pitch - the transformation in our set piece and mauling has been amazing.


I'd guess it's not so much that it's divisive amongst Ulster supporters as that it carries with it the risk that the protests could restart if they were brought back and he wants to avoid that.


Good point. Somebody might write something really mean on a placard.
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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby justinr73 » Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:13 pm

Thanks for the summary.

Any word on Marcel?

Back next week with any luck?
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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby Dave » Fri Mar 15, 2019 7:52 pm

justinr73 wrote:Thanks for the summary.

Any word on Marcel?

Back next week with any luck?
Marcell is being used to advertise Kings game.
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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby Jackie Brown » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:29 pm

On Paddy Jackson, any chance someone in the organisation could grow a pair of balls?

We'll go nowhere with Burns and sadly Lowry is too small.

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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby Dave » Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:18 pm

Jackie Brown wrote:On Paddy Jackson, any chance someone in the organisation could grow a pair of balls?

We'll go nowhere with Burns and sadly Lowry is too small.

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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby Jackie Brown » Fri Mar 15, 2019 11:25 pm

I won't even consider a ST until I can see a change in the organisation.

I wonder have the silly wenches who paid for the concerned ad in the BelTel darkened Ravenhill doors? Their views were more important than the supporters.

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Last edited by Jackie Brown on Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby justinr73 » Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:07 am

We live in strange times and it’s still too soon.

The players have stood up this season and there’s an argument to say that they, and the new coaching ticket, deserve your backing, irrespective of what you may feel about the bigger picture.
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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby nonplussed » Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:34 am

FFS will yis give over about PJ and SO, it's a shame they aren't here but they aren't and won't be... Move the flock on.

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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby Dave » Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:34 am

nonplussed wrote:FFS will yis give over about PJ and SO, it's a shame they aren't here but they aren't and won't be... Move the flock on.

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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby rumncoke » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:47 am

PJ and SO will rumble on because as Jackie Brown points out Burns is not in the same class as either and Lowry is too small . The fact still remains the IRFU and that "religious what's his names "stripped the talent and hope out of Ulster , and supplanted it with second rate wannabes.

Forgetting the fact is one thing forgiving it is another -- it was never the fault of the players and that fact is recognised by all it, was and is the gutless heart that is the problem. I wonder how the relationship classes are going down with the semi -psychopaths that inhabit the front row ,

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Re: McFarland and Petrie Q&A

Postby UlsterNo9 » Sat Mar 16, 2019 10:21 am

At least Petrie was man enough to give a definite answer on PJ and PO. Rather than the never say never guff Nuciwank gave.

Appreciate Shame Logan made it clear also they wouldn't be back but he was the spineless twunt that cast them from the flock for further attack from the wolves.

I get the impression if Petrie had of been at the wheel when it all did blow up he would have been astute enough to ensure the guys remained, were supported and the IRFU had an out so that they could save face.
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