Friday 30 September 2016

Time to bounce back after a bad week all round

Huge Pro12 and Champions Cup games will focus everyone's minds after disappointing results

Published 23/10/2015 | 02:30

‘Get down to the RDS tonight and be the 16th man – the home support is always incredible there,’ says Fergus McFadden
‘Get down to the RDS tonight and be the 16th man – the home support is always incredible there,’ says Fergus McFadden
Zane Kirchner during the South African national rugby team training session

Wales was not a happy hunting ground last weekend - it was a tough day at the office over in Llanelli for Leinster and for Ireland in Cardiff. It also showed that a lot can change in the space of a week in this game and, unfortunately, the World Cup came to a premature end for Ireland as they got knocked out by a fired-up Argentinian side.

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After the final group game it looked like Ireland were in a great place after a convincing performance against France but between injuries and tired bodies it was too tall a task to back it up the following week.

Argentina have thrived from their experience over the past few seasons playing in the Rugby Championship. From being in the international rugby wilderness and relying on games here and there and then in the World Cup every four years, they are now consistently playing against top-tier opposition in New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

They came into the tournament quietly as massive underdogs and yet now find themselves one game away from a World Cup Final. Their preparation was perfect. A high-profile early game against New Zealand - and they pushed the All Blacks harder and for longer than anyone else has been able to - and then they slipped under the radar again until the Ireland game.

You couldn't write them off now, particularly after seeing Australia's below-par performance against the Scottish where they definitely got out of jail with a last-minute penalty from Bernard Foley to seal victory.

The tournament as a whole has been incredible from day one and it's amazing to see how the lower-tier teams stepped up. You look at the likes of Japan and the improvements they have made; between beating South Africa and only narrowly missing out on a place in the last eight, it will be interesting to see where they are in another four years!

Eye-catching

From an Irish perspective it was certainly disappointing not to book a place in the semi-finals for the first time but we can be proud of some top performances that lifted the country over the past five weeks.

It was great to see Luke Fitzgerald come on last Sunday and put in such an eye-catching individual performance with a try and assist against Argentina and hopefully he can bring that form home for Leinster in the coming weeks.

We had a long hard look at ourselves after a lacklustre performance against the Scarlets away last week. They came out of the blocks firing and after 55 minutes the game had nearly got away from us at 25-0. Thankfully, we showed great character to get ourselves back into the game in the last 15 minutes but unfortunately it was too little too late with the game finishing up at 25-14.

As a group we know that we left a lot of scores out there so hopefully we can learn from that coming into another tough fixture this week at home to Glasgow. Training has gone well this week and with the shorter turnaround with a Friday kick-off it's important to do so as you have less time to tweak things in the build-up to another game.

Ireland's loss is Leinster's gain on the playing front as we will be due to get 19 players back from national duty - Zane (above) is still away with South Africa of course and good luck to him!

It's crazy to think of the level of competition when everyone gets back but it is exciting times ahead coming into a hugely important few Pro12 fixtures and opening pool games in the Champions Cup. This evening is all about four points and we need to put in a better performance against a quality Glasgow side to do so. They will also get some players back from international duty after their loss against Australia last Sunday and will be full of confidence after playing some good rugby at the World Cup.

Every point from now to Christmas is huge so hopefully we can put the best foot forward before all the lads come back into the set-up next week. Get down to the RDS tonight and be the 16th man - the home support is always incredible there!

Irish Independent

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