Balancing act on and off the pitch
Schools coaching and charitable work with ChildLine helps to keep the mind focused
Published 11/03/2016 | 02:30
There is a great buzz around camp coming up to this B&I Cup home quarter-final against London Welsh. With the senior members having a matchless week the roles will be reversed for Hugh Hogan and Shaun Berne as pitch sessions all week will be focused on executing the A team plays and refreshing our patterns for the battle ahead.
We were given Monday to rest and recover due to the heavy involvement of Academy players with the senior team, which has been great to see.
It's good to have familiar faces back. The boys coming back to us this week after getting a taste of Guinness Pro12 and even European games, is huge. The exposure the team has had to the senior environment this season will give us great confidence in the build-up towards tomorrow night but it is up to us all as a squad to make that count.
It has been a great season so far for us. This is a very new group of young talented players. At the start of the year back in July/August we sat down to agree on our goals, targets and standards as a group.
We are on track in terms of reaching many of our long-term goals, but could still be hitting a few more short-term ones statistically as each game comes.
Opening the campaign with an away win against Rotherham and being able to maintain our winning ways all the way through the group was very pleasing. We have come out on top of our table from a tough group. Even though we qualified with close to maximum points, some of the scorelines were deceiving, as a lot of teams faded in the last 20 minutes.
This says a lot about our fitness levels. There certainly has been no easy game which shows both the standard of this competition and this team's ability to win and adapt the style of play depending on the opposition.
In and around Leinster HQ there has been little or no split between the group, with the World Cup and Six Nations. With these competitions going on, it is great for young guys' development and opportunity to really push for places on the team and great seeing the amount of Leinster players involved in the Irish set-up. It really gives you an idea of how close you really are!
Back to tomorrow, the advantage of having the home quarter-final will be huge for us. Donnybrook is a fortress for many reasons. The crowds that Donnybrook has produced all year disregarding the rain, hail or snow has been amazing. We are so grateful for that support we get.
The new 3G pitch has really suited the style of play we are being encouraged to produce. It has added a new dimension to our style of play. I feel the smart, heads up, pacey rugby we can play on that pitch has given us the edge on a few occasions this season and hopefully that will be the case again.
Being a part of the Leinster Academy isn't of course all about on-field matters and balancing rugby life can be difficult enough if you don't get it right early.
I have finished my Sports and Exercise Management Diploma in UCD so have been lucky enough with a bit of free time on my hands.
I do a bit of coaching in my old school, St Gerard's in Bray and I have been in the middle of organising a charity event on May 21 for ChildLine.
It's a delicate balancing act. Organising meetings around training schedules and so on but the staff in Leinster and other people I have been dealing with for the charity have been so accommodating.
In my eyes, there is nothing better than being busy, as there can be quite a bit of down time and it's really important that you use your time productively.
I for one, love the feeling of crashing into bed early after a full-on day, so the busier the better!
We are at the business end of the season now so everything that has been accomplished so far means nothing when it comes to knockout cup rugby. This is where we have to produce an 80-minute performance in order to progress to the next stage of the competition.
So come down on the night and see some running rugby and hopefully a Leinster win.
I'm confident we will have the edge, but the extra support I believe can often be that extra 1pc you need and a good Donnybrook crowd will always helps us push on to glory!