Leinster squad must fill boots of Ireland stars -- McLaughlin
THE Pro12 season will be flying under the radar for much of the next six weeks, but even those with only a passing interest in rugby would have been surprised by the scoreline from Swansea last Friday.
Leinster's 27-3 defeat to the Ospreys was the biggest of Joe Schmidt's reign and although they are missing 14 players due to the large presence of the province's stars in New Zealand, the squad are making no excuses this week.
Kevin McLaughlin admits he has had his own pangs of regret as he watched his team-mates board the plane after missing out on selection, but he is now focused on getting things right ahead of Friday's visit of the Dragons to the RDS.
From the sound of things, training at UCD this week is going to be fun. "I think we're going to do a bit of collision work today, maybe kick the s**t out each other for a while," he said. "That never does any harm, I suppose.
"We just had a long video session and a lot of home truths were said. We're not making excuses, we let ourselves down. We know it's not a case of technique or anything, it's just a case of being hungrier. I think it has to be a mindset, and a bit of a wake-up call, because we're missing a lot of players and guys need to step up and fill their boots."
Luke Fitzgerald's knee injury does not appear as bad as first feared, while Jamie Hagan is beginning to see out of his black eye again and will be okay for the weekend. New signing Nathan White touches down this week from New Zealand and the tight-head comes into the equation for Friday.
McLaughlin, for one, is not using the missing Ireland players as an excuse for the poor start.
"It was bad on Friday," he said. "We're not going to make excuses for the way we played, but we still feel we had the opportunity to get back in the game.
"We want to build a culture here where it doesn't matter who's wearing the jersey, the effort and commitment remains the same. It's something we're aiming towards and trying to put right this Friday."