Sunday 24 September 2017

'Durable' McGrath still has plenty left in tank

McGrath has racked up 1,145 minutes this season and while some people would suggest that he has looked tired in recent weeks, he fully believes that he has plenty more to offer. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
McGrath has racked up 1,145 minutes this season and while some people would suggest that he has looked tired in recent weeks, he fully believes that he has plenty more to offer. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

This season has been a long, hard slog for Jack McGrath and while the summer break isn't in sight just yet, he wouldn't have it any another way.

McGrath's battle with Mako Vunipola for a starting place on the Lions Test team is set to rumble on until the first Test on June 24 but given Saracens' likely success before that, it leaves the Leinster player with plenty of work still to do.

Now established as Leinster and Ireland's first-choice loosehead, the 27-year-old will not have endured a season quite like this in the past.

For club and country, McGrath has racked up 1,145 minutes this season and while some people would suggest that he has looked tired in recent weeks, he fully believes that he has plenty more to offer in Leinster's Guinness PRO12 run-in as well as the Lions tour.

"I enjoy that aspect of the game, that I know I'm durable, and I know they (coaches) can depend on me," McGrath said."They know that I'm not going to be crying to the physios every week. I'm a little bit durable, and I suppose that's a good thing to have as a player."

Nowadays mental fatigue takes as much of a toll on players as the physical aspect does and McGrath is mindful of that.

Losing Champions Cup semi-finals certainly doesn't help and while being selected for his first Lions tour is a massive honour, the focus remains on Leinster and ensuring that they end the season with silverware. "Sunday was hugely draining," he admitted.

"Having not lost a game with Leinster for a long time, and for it to be such a big game and so close. Knowing that we had them on the ropes, and not going all the way through, it's massively frustrating and draining.

"But as I said, you have to pick yourself up, and dust yourself off. That's the sport, and as you get more experienced, you kind of learn those things, and you can't let it fester for too long.

"We want to win silverware as a group together. We're a relatively new group from the teams that have won in the past.

" We want to make our own memories, our own history and put our names on the shirt of Leinster as a winning player that was lifting trophies in a successful time for Leinster."

As for Vunipola's form, that hasn't gone unnoticed by McGrath but at the same time, he is not daunted by the challenge of trying to make the number one jersey his own in New Zealand.

"You're always looking at guys in your own position," he said.

"He played really well (against Munster), but I'm a different player to him, he's a different player to me. I don't try and model my game on other people, because you're your own player. You do play to your strengths, and improve on your weaknesses. He played well, but I'm not going to be losing sleep over how well he's playing."

 

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