AFTER last week's battle in France, both Leinster and Clermont Auvergne will up their performance at the Aviva Stadium today. There is a rigidness to Clermont at Stade Marcel Michelin as they try to protect their incredible run of 51 home victories. On the road, in a sense the pressure is off.
At Leinster, we know how important this match is. It is the one game of the year, at a packed Aviva, that you don't want to disappoint in.
The lads will have spent some of this week criticising themselves after Sunday's defeat in France. When you are outside of that, you really don't feel like you have the right to criticise.
There was a huge amount of positives to take from that performance – it was a game we could very easily have won. We defended really well and we created some really good opportunities.
We probably let ourselves down a little in not taking those chances, but most people I've talked to believe that a bonus point was a good result over there. As a player, you don't think like that – you want to win and be champions – but the lads will take a lot of confidence from that performance.
The travelling support was incredible last weekend and we know that we will have superb backing this week.
The crowd at Stade Marcel Michelin contributed to Clermont's win – they made it a cauldron for us, made it difficult. This weekend, our fans can do the same to them and hopefully add to the pressure on them.
Leinster's support has grown hugely in recent years and we have really tried to grow our fanbase beyond Dublin by representing all 12 counties in the province.
I get such enjoyment when I am back home in Louth and I see people wearing Leinster and Ireland rugby tops who want to talk about rugby.
It is so new. and it is a sign of how well both teams have done over the years. I take a lot of pride from that.
When I was growing up I played a huge amount of Gaelic football, but rugby was my first love. I was always the different kid, who loved a sport that my friends knew nothing about.
It was difficult at times, because as a child you can become marginalised a little bit. You have to dream when you're young and keep going for it.
It was tough at times, but going to school in Clongowes was really the start of what was to come afterwards.
That growing support will be in evidence at the Aviva today, and I will be in the stands with them.
It isn't easy watching from the sidelines – these back-to-back games against Clermont are difficult to watch. Sitting at home on the couch watching the lads play last Sunday was not nice and this week at the Aviva Stadium will be worse.
The fans deserve performances, they deserve victories and hopefully they will get one today.