Tom Vickers’ Saints v Ulster view: Pisi hits nail on the head

Happy-go-lucky Saints star George Pisi summed things up perfectly when he was put in front of the assembled press this week.

Last season’s player of the season, looking ahead to Friday night’s Heineken Cup clash with Ulster, outlined the importance of the game.

TELLING IT HOW IT IS - George Pisi (Picture: Linda Dawson)

TELLING IT HOW IT IS - George Pisi (Picture: Linda Dawson)

And he issued a warning to his team-mates in the process.

Pisi labelled the game against the best team the RaboDirect PRO12 has to offer (Ulster are currently top of their domestic table with 10 wins from 10) ‘do or die’.

He also told the Saints players the must not ‘slack off’ at any point during the showdown, or face the punishment that will inevitably ensue.

We members of the media couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Tom Vickers staff photograph

Tom Vickers staff photograph

Addressing Pisi’s first point about the crunch nature of the clash; it really is win or bust.

If Ulster jet back to Belfast with four, or five, points in their overnight bags, Saints can wave goodbye to their hopes of a place in the quarter-finals of this season’s competition.

Not only would the Irishmen hold a huge points advantage, a massive eight if they claim a maximum haul and Saints don’t get within seven, they would hold the upper hand psychologically.

And with the return fixture in Belfast just eight days later, that would surely be enough to see them to another victory against Jim Mallinder’s men, at Ravenhill.

However, should Saints win secure any sort of win, they will have the points and the impetus they need to push Mark Anscombe’s side all the way for qualification.

Next to Pisi’s second point: Saints slacking off.

They have produced some superb rugby this season, notably in the opening-day win at Gloucester, where they were untouchable for the first 50 minutes.

And as recently as last Friday, Saints showed their teeth as they bit Sale Sharks and soared into a 27-3 lead at Salford.

In both games, they took their foot off the gas, giving the opposition a scent of victory.

They weren’t made to pay on either occasion as both the Cherry and Whites and the Sharks proved more toothless than ruthless.

But there will be no escape against Ulster should Saints fall into a slumber at any point at the Gardens.

What we can be sure of is that Pisi, one of the most cheery men you could ever hope to meet, will still be smiling whatever the result.

But a small smirk shown would turn into a face-wide grin if Saints can pick up the points.

And if they listen to their Samoan centre, they can do just that.