Friday 28 April 2017

We must continue our ruthless streak, insists hooker Tracy

Leinster's James Tracy Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Leinster's James Tracy Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The recent positive mood around UCD has been tempered slightly by the hamstring injury that Seán Cronin suffered against Zebre two weeks ago.

The Ireland hooker is set to miss the Six Nations but back in Leinster, the province are confident in the level of back-up available.

Richardt Strauss has recently returned to full fitness which is a welcome boost, while James Tracy's progress this season is best illustrated by the fact that he won his first Ireland cap in Ireland's win over Canada in November.

Tracy assumed the No 2 jersey for last week's impressive win over Montpellier but he knows that the challenge awaiting in Castres this evening is likely to be much tougher. Nevertheless, it is one that the Kildare native is relishing.

Both Tracy and Cronin have been instrumental in their side's good form this season and the latter explained how Leinster's style of play was suiting the hookers and indeed the front-row union.

"We are encouraging the wide channel play. You can see all the hookers are getting their hands on the ball and it is a nice style to play in.

"I enjoy it, the lads are enjoying it and you can see from the last weekend, it is enjoyable and the lads played really well as we have been lately.

"They are getting the ball out of contact, it is pleasing and hopefully it can continue this weekend."

While Cronin will be hugely frustrated to be missing the next 10 weeks, it means that Tracy will get plenty of time to fine-tune his own game.

Tracy is far from the finished article just yet but there is no fear of him getting carried away as he seeks further improvements.

Having made the switch from loosehead prop on the back of advice from Joe Schmidt, Tracy is still adjusting to the new position.

His level of performance has steadily increased this season and he is hoping that continues across the board in France tonight.

"We have showed pretty good ruthlessness so far in Europe, when we have got a few scores, we have kept going," he maintained.

"While maybe in the past few years, we have kind of settled just for getting four tries or just settling for the win and not kicking on.

"That has been one thing we have been working on, to just keep going and be relentless with our pressure."

Proud Castres' defeat to Northampton last weekend ended their hopes of advancing to the knockout stages but the former Top 14 champions boast a proud home record.

While their focus may lie on domestic matters, Castres won't be too inclined to easily roll over in front of their supporters.

"They have only lost once at home this season and the two games they have won in Europe have been at home," Tracy said.

"The young guys here are under no illusions about how hard they are to beat. Like all French sides, they are big and abrasive and they actually play really good stuff as well.

"We know what to expect. They will come after us in the scrum, try to kick to the corner and then try to use their momentum and size to just maul us. We know exactly what we have to do.

"The experience of a lot lads being blooded last year as well as a lot of lads coming in and (Stuart) Lancaster coming and being given a few different insights into his philosophy."

Irish Independent

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