Tracy throwing everything at bid to climb pecking order
James Tracy has had to remain patient during his time with Leinster but he is hoping that he will get a chance to impress at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow.
Since making the transition from prop to hooker, the 25-year old has faced stiff competition from internationals Sean Cronin and Richardt Strauss as well the emerging Bryan Byrne.
His four appearance thus far this season have proved that he remains very much a part of Leo Cullen's plans and he will eager to at least seal a place on the bench for the visit of Munster.
Tracy has worked his way up with ranks with Leinster as well as Ireland's under-age sides and he is relishing the prospect of playing on the big stage.
"To be in a derby game with 40,000-plus would be unbelievable," he said.
"It is the old rivalry. It is the closest thing to an international you are going to get in the Pro12.
"Last year, I was involved in the Christmas game. It was electric. It was unbelievable to be part of it.
"You get selfish. You want that feeling again. You get a taste for it."
Moving into the middle of the scrum has brought difficulties but Tracy feels as if he now has a better handle on the position.
With plenty of big games coming up, getting another chance tomorrow would allow him stake his claim.
"I have a routine that I do every day," he explained. "I throw 50 balls outside of pitch sessions.
"That is the target I have set for myself. I will reassess at the end of the season, maybe do more, maybe do less. I never go too far. I never throw myself into pain. There are never 50 lineouts in a game.
"It is about trying to find the balance between throwing yourself into too much fatigue where you could pick up a bad habit.
"For practising my hooking, I do pilates two times a week, not that you need to put your leg around your head to hook the ball. I have found it helps for core stability.
"I have a structure for the core values. If you're a kicker and you can't kick your goal, it doesn't matter what else you can do.
"That is a given. You practise your core values all the time, every day. The everyday routine has definitely helped me.
"You know then that when you go into a game situation, you have left no stone unturned.
"Another thing I work on would be poaching, trying to be my own player rather than emulating anyone else.
"I work hard on the breakdown and making sure my skills and little passes are right. After that, it is work-rate. There is no talent in that. It is up to yourself."
Having gotten a taste for the big games last season, Tracy is desperate for more.
While he understands the level of competition that he faces, the former Newbridge College student is willing to fight for his place and prove his worth at the province.
"It was brilliant to finally get a break and play in games, the Munster away, the Bath game, the fixtures you always want to be involved in," he said.
"Every week you have to approach the same. Injuries happen the whole time.
"You just have to prepare as if you are starting every week. The rest is out of your hands.
"The guys are international hookers. It's always going to be really competitive.
"Selection calls went against me. But it's understandable when you see the calibre of players against me."