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Carr keeps foot on gas

Some things have undoubtedly changed since the last time that Fionn Carr pulled on a Leinster jersey, but others have remained the same.

The familiarity of friendly faces and surroundings aided his return this summer after three successful seasons in Connacht, an experience that he admits to having loved.

But there was unfinished business for the Kildare flyer, who is determined to capitalise on his accrued experience to date and continue making strides to fulfil his ambitions.

That is why he uses words like 'frustrating' and 'annoying' when he talks about the opening round Pro 12 defeat last weekend in the Liberty Stadium in Swansea.

Understandably he, like his colleagues, were keen to kick-start the new season on a positive, but the outcome was the kind of performance that the team are loath to repeat.

"You could see on the players' faces on Monday how annoyed they were and that was nearly three days after the game," the 25-year-old revealed ahead of tonight's visit of the Dragons to the RDS (KO: 7.35pm).

"Leinster are a big club with a strong tradition and all of the players are aware of the level of performance that's expected when you pull on the jersey. And we didn't meet those high standards last weekend.

"They (Ospreys) bullied us at the breakdown and some silly handling errors, coupled with not looking after the ball when we were in possession, killed us on the night.

"The last few weeks have been good and I really think that the squad are shaping up but we owe it to ourselves and to our supporters to put in a stronger effort on Friday night."

Carr spent his formative years in the Leinster Academy under the shrewd tutelage of Colin McEntee.


From a different vantage point he has seen how his peers, including Fergus McFadden, Sean O'Brien, Jonathan Sexton and Devin Toner have gone on to gain full international honours.

He is not one to shoot from the hip, instead citing his immediate goal being to first earn and then maintain a starting spot in the line up. But the caveat of form being rewarded is enough of a carrot for any ambitious player to put in the hard yards.

"The culture of Leinster, even from my first spell here, was always to be pushing competitiveness within the squad and that attitude was encouraged from the Academy lads.

"Not much has changed in that respect and, if anything, the Academy lads are even hungrier than ever because with so many guys away at the World Cup there are opportunities to stake a claim.

"In fairness to Joe (Schmidt), he is picking players on form and that's a good environment for us all to be a part of because it means you're constantly asking questions of yourself.

"As a player, when you know that you're in with a chance of selection then you will work even harder. At the time there were a good few back three players ahead of me.

"So I felt that to progress further I had to be playing regularly. Seventy-odd caps down the line with Connacht -- and having played against some of the best players in the league -- I feel that I'm better equipped to make an impression with Leinster."

Now settled into a house with Sean Cronin on the Goatstown Road, Carr admits that his home life is 'a fair bit quieter' nowadays with the hooker currently away on Ireland duty in New Zealand.

He grins when you ask him about the running bet he has had all summer long with Jamie Hagan. "Things were going quite well when Kildare were still in the Championship, but since then Jamie is up a few bob because I thought Dublin would lose to Donegal in the semi-finals of the All-Ireland football!

"Next up is Kerry and I reckon I'll recoup some of those losses after next weekend!"

You sense that with Carr he can see the fruits of the Academy education, having lived the life that was cultivated in those tough early-morning sessions, where you had to balance the educational and sporting learnings in a professional environment.


"Coming out of school in Newbridge College," he says. "I remembered thinking at the time that it was a real eye-opener to join a proper professional club, where you're training and eating like a professional, doing weights every day and then lining up against some of the best international players in training that afternoon.

"Now, a few years on, I can see the benefits of being exposed to that kind of training at a young age.

"All of the preparation and training over the last few weeks has been gearing up towards making that first appearance in The RDS as a Leinster player. This is exactly where I want to be and it doesn't matter who we play. When you play for Leinster the motivation to do your best -- and win -- remains the same."

For Carr, it seems, the education continues.