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Madigan: This game is boom or bust for us


Ian Madigan

Ian Madigan

Ian Madigan

Ian Madigan says "there is 100% confidence" in Leinster coach Matt O'Connor.

If there is one man who should hold a grudge, it is Madigan as he has been moved around more frequently than the pieces on a chess board.

"Matt is a quality coach," says the Ireland international.

"He formulates a strategy each week depending on what players he has playing for him and on who he is playing against.

"The game-plan is designed to make our players look better and to find holes in the team that we are playing against.

"He does that brilliantly.

"It is very clear for players going into a game. I know exactly what I am doing and where their weaknesses are and where our strengths are.

"It's just about me going out and executing that and, as a group, we haven't been able to do that for him.

"It's not a case of there being any doubt in our minds about what we are supposed to be doing.

"There is a hundred per cent confidence there."

And there you have it.

The man most likely to seethe at his jack-of-all-trades, multi-purpose function within Leinster makes a genuine defence of his coach.

He also puts the pressure back on the players to take out Harlequins at The Aviva Stadium on Saturday night.

"All the chips are across the line. It's boom or bust this week. We know that as players.

"Aside from having to take control of the group, the last two times Leinster have played in the Aviva we've lost.

"In fairness to the supporters, and especially in the lead-up to Christmas, they're showing their support again. There are going to be over 40,000 people at this game at the weekend.

"There is a big acknowledgement from the players that we have to perform this week, not just for ourselves but for the supporters and to show gratitude for that."

The impression is not given of a Leinster all at sea, unable to walk the walk because of the retirement of some players; injury to others.

There were signs of life against Harlequins, all against a back-drop of set-piece implosion and indiscipline.

"I don't think we were far off," said Madigan.

"There are a few small things on the pitch, the last pass not going to hand, or a crucial ruck not going right and we get turned over and give away a penalty.

"So our focus this week is just getting those small things right because a lot of those small things will add up and they will have a big effect in the overall performance."

Frustration is a mother. It gnaws at you. It causes loss of sleep when you don't do what you know you can do. It can lead to a loss in belief.

"I don't think it is a problem with the confidence. I certainly feel you know as a player, you can get a good sense out of training and it usually transforms into how you perform.

"I thought we trained well last week and thought it was going to happen over in Harlequins and it didn't quite happen," says Madigan.

The plain facts reveal Leinster and Castres, both in Pool Two, are the only clubs in The Champions Cup with three tries from three rounds.

"On the try-scoring thing, that is one part of the attack," he shares.

"When we are reviewing games we are going through our whole attacking performance and we know that we are only a few per cent off. It's about passes sticking, getting the ruck right.

"We feel if we do that it will have a massive knock-on effect to our performance.

"There were times in that game where I felt 'Jeez, we are close to being very, very good here'.

"You can feel the energy as a player and I certainly think that that big performance is just around the corner for us."

For sure, the defence held up hard at The Stoop. The attack was another matter.

"Our focus is we are trying to play slightly wider. For that to happen we need to be more accurate at the ruck. Our passing quality needs to be slightly better.

"If those two things don't happen it means the guys in the wider channel have more pressure on them, less time on the ball and it happened three or four times in the wide channels last week where it didn't click.

"It wasn't those guys' fault. The responsibility goes to the team. The higher quality ball that we get for the team, the better for them, they will have more time on the ball."

It definitely does ring true. Time will tell.