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No place like home for Ulster’s Nick Timoney

The Stormers’ spectacular late try against the Scarlets took Dan McFarland’s side from second to third, meaning if they get past Limerick’s men they will have to travel to the semi-final.

A narrow 24-21 victory over the Sharks on Friday secured Ulster’s home draw in the last eight and man for man Nick Timoney is happy to have the comforts of home for the knockout game directly with Munster.

“I think we’re coming back in the right direction after going down in form a bit,” Timoney said.

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Nick Timoney was delighted Ulster secured a home quarter-final in the URC. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

“So those are positives, not negatives, he’s a starter and a home quarter-final is a good place to be.

“A home quarter-final is huge for the club in general, giving fans and people another game to watch.

“A play-off is huge for us just in terms of the momentum of the place, the feel-good factor and the buzz around the place.

“Obviously playing at home is more of an advantage than playing away, especially when some away games were also like South Africa, so that’s huge for us.”

Timoney believes Ulster have reached the milestone of securing a quarter-final at home.

The team had lost three consecutive URC games before winning in Edinburgh and crashed out of Europe during that period.

“It proves to us that we had a great run during the season and then we lost a lot of time and had a terrible run for a few weeks,” Timoney said.

“Now we’re kind of getting back into that flow of having a good run and hopefully the belief in the game that we’re playing will be stronger because of that because we’ve seen where it can go wrong, which we can do wrong and we somehow had to bring ourselves back into the good frame of things.

“The pressure is still there, the last two games looked like must wins and obviously the quarter-final is a must win.

“We’re happy but nothing changes, it’s good to have a few practice games with that pressure on ourselves knowing we had to win, so from that perspective it was pretty good.”

Since leaving his native Dublin in 2016 to move north, the back row has seen Leinster win four domestic championships and a Champions Cup.

Leo Cullen’s side will contest another European final this Saturday, but Timoney is driven by a desire to win silverware in Ulster.

“I guess I always look at myself and where I am in my rugby career, and I assess whether I’m that happy,” he said.

“When I was a kid or if you had asked me at the beginning of my career what I would have liked to do at 26, I would have finally said that I would have liked to win the championship, the Champions Cup, to have played 20 or 30 times for Ireland like a lot of guys I’m friends with.

“The worst thing you can have in a team is people happy to be picked.

“I just look at all the things I don’t have or all the things I failed at and try to use them sometimes.”