Saturday 3 December 2016

Player Diary: You want to get away from rugby, but World Cup is just unmissable

Tiernan O'Halloran

Published 25/09/2015 | 02:30

Tiernan O'Halloran in action against Glasgow
Tiernan O'Halloran in action against Glasgow

This week has been about ramping up our preparations for next Saturday's tussle with Cardiff at the Sportsground, and after a few down-days lads have been keen to get back on the field.

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You might feel like we are not due a chance to switch off so early in the season, but it is vital that we take every chance we get to rest up and recover.

Before we broke up for the few days we had a squad get-together on the Monday after the Glasgow game to review that.

With the break to look forward to, we had a pretty serious hit-out to shake off some of the Glasgow cobwebs.

We looked at a few things around the Cardiff game, but most of it was trying to iron out any issues from the Scotstoun defeat. We had a few things to work on, like holding our runs, and we tried a few things in phase play because we struggled a few times there.

It was a busy day so we were all happy enough to have a few days off after that.

Some of the lads headed off to try and find some sun, but I headed west out home to Clifden to relax and take it easy for a few days.

I hadn't been home in a while and once the season starts to really ramp up after the World Cup it'll be hard to get out again, so it was great to take the chance to spend some time with my family.

Brilliant

It's always great to get back. I didn't get up to much, but I met up with a few friends, which was brilliant.

I managed to slot in a round of golf with my dad, but I hadn't played in a while. It was good to get out, even though I came home with a lot fewer golf balls than I left with.

It did take a few days of pacing around the house to fully stop thinking about rugby, but nearly as soon as I had achieved that, the World Cup started.

It was a great feeling to kick back and watch the games with the family again - just the chance to watch the games as a supporter was brilliant.

You'd think I might want to watch something else, but I sat glued to every minute of rugby possible.

When we came back in for training on Monday we had a meeting, and the first thing we did was to have a chat about what we'd seen in the World Cup.

We broke up into a few small groups and thrashed it out: what we had noticed, what we could bring to our own game and issues we spotted that we don't want to arise.

We spoke at length about how the games are being refereed.

They are being a lot stricter now on tackling around the neck and hitting rucks correctly; and the TMO is dissecting tries for any foul play in the build-up. Any little foul is being picked up, so the last thing we want is to be pinged and cost us a try.

We didn't realise that Pat Lam was going to play such a big part in the opening ceremony, so to see him representing Samoa was great. I'm sure it was a huge honour for him to represent his country like that.

I hadn't seen that much of him in his playing days, but my dad always talks about how good he was.

In that team meeting we also had a good look at some of the things Japan did in their win over South Africa. We were all losing our heads when we watched it live, but once we dissected it a bit, we saw the quality of rugby that they played was excellent.

They got the ball with four minutes to go in their own 22 and they managed to pin the Springboks back on their own line by the end.

The intensity that they hit the line with was amazing - even if the gap wasn't there they managed to suck in an extra defender every time.

The lines they ran were perfect and they got really flat in phase play to move the South Africans around. It just shows what excellent basic skills and serious intensity can do for you.

It really highlights what we and any team could achieve when working as a team like that. No matter who we are playing, if we are favourites or are underdogs, we always need to play as if you're playing the best team in Europe.

You have to feel sorry for Danie Poolman and Quinn Roux this week, though. They got plenty of stick about their countrymen losing out to Japan, and it was even worse for Danie, who's helping out with Buccaneers this season. They lost to Old Wesley after scoring five tries, so he really had a Saturday to forget.

It is great to see the clubs back in action too; they are really carrying the rugby torch these weekends without the provincial action. It was good to see 'Wegians getting off to a good start in Division 1A, and a few of the Connacht lads are getting game time there too. You can see that coming through in training here, that they are sharp.

As a youngster I played plenty of rugby out in Clifden, but after I turned pro I made the switch to Galwegians. At that stage it was more beneficial to my development to be playing top-flight club rugby and it definitely helped my game.

And with the new rules that state fully contracted players cannot play outside the top two divisions, it doesn't look I'll be able to play with Connemara any time soon. Maybe after I retire I'll pull on the black shirt again!

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