Tuesday 25 April 2017

McGrath ready to write his own history

Luke McGrath during Leinster squad training at UCD, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Luke McGrath during Leinster squad training at UCD, Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Growing up supporting Leinster, these were always the kind of games that Luke McGrath dreamed of playing in and now, come Sunday afternoon, he gets the chance to create his own history.

Having bided his time behind Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss, McGrath has been handed the reins at scrum-half this season, despite the signing of Jamison Gibson-Park.

McGrath has grown in confidence as the campaign has gone on and has undoubtedly benefited from the confidence that has been shown in him on the international stage by Joe Schmidt.

The 24-year old has developed a good understanding with Johnny Sexton, and the pair's influence will be crucial in Lyon as Leinster look to stay on course to win the Champions Cup.

"It's incredibly special," McGrath said. "Growing up, watching these games… I was at the final in 2009 and 2012, just watching those games, the incredible atmospheres, I was almost dreaming that I might be involved one day.

"Playing in France, it's an incredible atmosphere and one I'm really looking forward to."

While the season might be going well both from a personal and team point of view, McGrath knows that he and his team-mates will be judged by what they win at the end of it.

A daunting task lies ahead against Clermont Auvergne, but Leo Cullen's side have already played in France twice this season.

Les Jaunards will provide Leinster with their toughest test to date but confidence is high.

"It's been going really well," said McGrath. "Something every player wants is silverware at the end and we'll see how we judge it at the end of the year. But it's been brilliant.

"It was a massive learning year for me last year being in with those older guys.

"The average age of the scrum-halves has been chopped quite dramatically this year. I think that's brilliant, we've four young No 9s in the squad at the moment and we're all driving each other to be better every day.

Brilliant

"I'm trying to alter my game a bit, Stuart (Lancaster) has been brilliant; he's brought in new ideas for No 9s. He challenges us every day in training, there's more running metres now in training than probably ever. This year we're trying to make decisions on the run.

"Last year, I probably would have just tried to get it out as quick as possible but now it's all about scanning, listening to Johnny or whatever.

"When you have Johnny outside, he has a load of experience and he's communicating to me all the time and that definitely helps. So I should know what I'm doing by the time I get to each breakdown."

Irish Independent

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