Thursday 27 October 2016

McQuilkin's steely influence paying off

Published 15/04/2016 | 02:30

Fergus McFadden and Ben Te'o in high spirits during training Photo: Sportsfile
Fergus McFadden and Ben Te'o in high spirits during training Photo: Sportsfile

Leinster may have the best defensive record in the Pro12 this season but there is no sense that they are about to rely on that to ensure that they finish the campaign as champions.

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Kurt McQuilkin is in his second spell with the club and his influence has been crucial to ensuring that Leinster have only conceded an impressive 18 tries.

Scoring tries has been the league leaders' problem and although that is out of McQuilkin's remit, he is confident that the attack can click against Edinburgh this evening as Leinster look to build on the win over Munster last time out.

The way in which the Leinster defence repelled the Munster attack in the closing stages has set the standard for the remainder of the season, according to McQuilkin.

"I think when you're in that situation in those type of matches that's exactly what you're looking for them to show a bit of attitude, show a bit of desire and go into the contact zone with a bit of intent which I think they did in that last couple of minutes when we were down to 14 men in our red zone," the Kiwi said.

"Defence is always at the top of my tree! I guess that's something that you can base your foundation off with regards to D if you get it right, but I don't think it's taken any more focus than the attack, which we're working pretty hard on too. I guess defensively we needed to be solid when the World Cup was on and the boys were away and have a system that they could all buy into but also that they could believe in too. So that was a good foundation stone for us but it didn't take any more limelight than the attack in the season."

Leinster's destiny is in their own hands and McQuilkin admitted that discussions had been held amongst the squad and the coaches about how that can remain the same in the final three games that are left before the semi-finals.

"We've said in our meetings that we need to hit those final games on your own terms and not looking for other results to piggyback a way into the play-offs in some shape or form so these next three games are massive for us," he insisted.

"In particular Edinburgh, they're a good defensive outfit, they can hurt you, they love the counter-attack game, so they'll be tough to bowl but yeah from here on in it's about heads up, bums down and making sure we dot the I's and cross the T's.

"I see our backs in particular, every training, Girv (Dempsey) will take them through their skills drills, which involve the pass and the catch, the run and the decision-making; they do a lot of work on it. It's probably just a bit of a confidence thing at the moment.

"You talk of Connacht, at the moment they are playing some good footie. It's a confidence thing, they are attacking well and that confidence just breeds more confidence and you can see it in their attack at the moment."

McQuilkin is expecting Leinster to be more clinical and he is confident that they aren't too far away from clicking,

"We'll come right. I'm pretty confident we'll come right. From a collective when we get into those attacking situations we are just not clinical enough at times.

"It's about identifying when we are in certain areas of the park we have to lock into our attacking shape and stick to that shape and pull it through.

"Once you are on a roll that confidence breeds confidence. We are probably just lacking a touch but they are working hard on the track."

Irish Independent

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