McLaughlin desperate to ease pain with victory
THE bright blue stitches emanating from a wound above Kevin McLaughlin's right eye tell their own story. Leinster are hurting.
He didn't play in Galway last Friday, but the flanker watched in horror as Connacht ran in five tries against the European champions. Since then the atmosphere around the camp has been "gloomy", with "everybody in a bad mood".
McLaughlin went out training on Monday after Joe Schmidt's video nasty and suffered a painful cut as the frustrations were worked out on the field.
He is one of those being eased back in to the Leinster side after his involvement in New Zealand last June, but he will feature against Munster at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
Schmidt and the coaching staff have had their say and now it is up to the players to respond. "There were a few scars after that session," McLaughlin says of Monday's workout at the launch of Under Armour's Charged Cotton Storm range. "There's a big edge in the camp this week. We're not used to being beaten that badly.
"We spent a long time trying to build our culture so as to avoid defeats like Friday, so regardless of the injuries and the circumstances, we're extremely disappointed with ourselves and we're keen to put it right this weekend."
Last year's glory has faded quickly into memory, especially as the Heineken Cup success was followed by disappointment in the Pro12 final against the Ospreys and the nightmare Ireland tour to New Zealand. Victory on Saturday would help.
"A win wouldn't be bad now," McLaughlin smiles. "This season, we've conceded a lot of tries, we haven't been great, lost a couple of games so yeah, I wouldn't say no to a run of wins. I don't think we're a long way off achieving it."
Despite it ending with a 60-0 defeat in Hamilton, McLaughlin thoroughly enjoyed his first international tour and, having gone over with two caps and come back with five, he wants more international recognition.
"I loved every minute of the tour apart from the last 80, it was an amazing experience," he says. "Hopefully, I can start playing well for Leinster and push on into November."
He knows that a big performance on Saturday would do him a favour. "I will be playing against guys I will be competing with for a spot in the 23 against South Africa," he says.
"You don't want someone getting the better of you in any game, but especially this one, when Gert (Smal), Declan (Kidney) and Les (Kiss) will be at it and monitoring everything."