Despite a 42-13 drubbing at the hands of European Cup champions Leinster on Boxing Day Ulster boss Brian McLaughlin remains upbeat about his side's prospects against Munster this weekend.
With the massive clash with the Pro12 champions at Ravenhill looming this weekend McLaughlin chose to rest a number of his frontline stars for the showdown with Leinster in Dublin, and although they showed good determination they were ultimately outclassed.
However, McLaughlin insists that there were plenty of positives to be taken from the defeat.
He commented: "I thought our youngsters held their hand up exceptionally well on the night. The scoreline flattered Leinster a little bit.
"We've got to take a look at these young fellas, the way they tackled, the way they defended but also the way they attacked - they've a little bit to learn there.
"There was a period in the first half when we had an opportunity and a period in the second half when we had an opportunity and on these big stages you've to take those chances. We didn't tonight and unfortunately the game got away from us," added the Ulster coach.
Although Leinster eventually cruised home, the key for McLaughlin was the intent his charges showed when they were placed under pressure at the RDS.
"They made Leinster work hard for parts of the game - from my point of view this has been good for the young guys and a superb learning experience. They key thing is that they learn from this evening, they've got to because they were in the game for long periods of time but when you get opportunities at this level you've got to take them.
"We put some good tackles in but there were some soft tries in there too. But they're young. They'll take a good look at it and they'll learn from it," he explained.
With Munster lined up at a sold-out Ravenhill on Friday, McLaughlin is expected to field a much changed side as they look to claim a major scalp in front of their home crowd.
"Our senior players will have been sitting at home, watching this match, and they'll have seen the energy and urgency that some of those young fellas brought to the game - if we can get the same amount of energy from our top players on Friday night then we'll be in business," said the Ulster boss.
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