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Gladiator McLaughlin out to beat up on Connacht


Kevin MacLaughlin

Kevin MacLaughlin

Kevin MacLaughlin

Kevin McLaughlin looked like Andy Lee did last week in Las Vegas.

He was ready to go right there and then at the Leinster press conference yesterday as he contemplated an out and out war against what he sees as "definitely" the best Connacht team in his time in the game.

"From a physical point of view, they really come at you and they try beat you up.

"That's how they play," he said.

"If we don't front up physically, we lose the game. If you play against any fired up team, you need to be there in the physical stakes or you're in serious trouble.

"And we all know that.

"We've played Connacht before (this season). We got beaten up down there this year, so we have to make sure we're not caught off-guard on that front."

You can bet your bottom dollar McLaughlin will take out all the frustration he has felt from injuries this season and last on his guests.

He has played a sum total of 193 minutes through four matches this season and played 826 minutes through 14 matches last season.

In that time, Rhys Ruddock made his move through the ranks to cement his place in Joe Schmidt's Ireland side and Dominic Ryan made his international debut in November.

A consistent output of games could just take him back to the top of the game.

"That's the plan. It's been the plan a couple of times this season unfortunately," he smiled.

"That's the way rugby goes. All I can do is take my opportunities when they come. Play well. That's all you can do."

The negativity that surrounds Leinster has not dented McLaughlin's belief. He has seen it all before.

"We've come to this stage and we know we're playing within ourselves," he said.

"We've been in this position before and we've a lot of experience in the changing room and there's a lot of experience in the coaching staff.

"We're excited about what's to come. We're right in the mix in Europe and right in the mix in the Guinness."

He holds an answer as to why Leinster are not finding the try-line in Europe like they have been in the PRO12.

"Believe it or not, it can be from trying too hard sometimes. I think we're overrunning plays sometimes, we're not holding our feet.

"Guys are getting over-excited and trying to force it a little bit. And those knock-on errors do have an impact on confidence when you're on the pitch.

"If a couple of those opportunities are converted early on it just changes the whole complexion of the game.

"And, you know, at certain stages in the season when we have gotten a couple of early tries it has changed.

"So, as players, we have to improve our execution. The plays are there. We need to execute them. Get the scores early and execute when we get our chances.

"That will change the pace of the game and improve our confidence on the pitch as well."