Leinster lessons are taking me to the next level – Mike McCarthy
MIKE McCARTHY credits Connacht with making him the player he is. Now he's backing Leinster to make him the best he can be.
Despite being an Ireland international and a professional for 13 years, McCarthy believes he is still evolving and learning as a player. The best, the 31-year-old feels, is yet to come.
"I learned a hell of a lot in Connacht," said McCarthy. "Being with Connacht made me into a really good player.
"Now I'm looking forward to pushing it on again, learning more and becoming a better player. That's what being in an environment like Leinster's means. You are improving all the time. I have been learning in every session since pre-season.
"It's a really positive environment and knowing how successful the team has been, there is a responsibility to add to that and be a part of it."
It is not a stretch to suggest McCarthy is a late bloomer. He was a Six Nations ever-present this year, but only made his Test debut in August 2011. In many ways he is still learning his craft.
"I feel like I've a lot of homework to do every night," he laughed. "I started a masters in business studies in Griffith College (on Monday night) and during the lecture I was thinking, 'I should be doing my Leinster and Ireland homework'!
"It's fantastic, though. I'm really enjoying it and am looking forward to developing and further honing myself as a player."
McCarthy and scrum-half Isaac Boss both spoke about a determination to make up for a disappointing performance against Glasgow last weekend when they play Cardiff in the RDS on Friday.
Boss went so far as to suggest the players felt an embarrassment at last weekend's display.
"Certainly there is an edge to the mood this week," said Boss. "And a certain amount of embarrassment. We need a response this weekend. Individual errors cost us. We missed tackles and made mistakes.
"It's up to us to make things right this weekend."
Boss did single out his former Hurricanes team-mate Jimmy Gopperth for praise for the manner in which the out-half has adapted to life with the Amlin Cup and Celtic League champions.
"We had one season together in 2005," recalled Boss. "Jimmy has slotted in really well.
"We have got some real depth at half-back. Jimmy can really mix his game up – he can kick the forwards into places around the pitch and get the backs moving when the opportunity presents itself. It's all positive."