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McFadden is happy with central perk

YOU have to be a speed reader of signs and signals more than books if you want to survive in the hit-and-run corridors of backline rugby these days. Sometime wing, sometime centre Fergus McFadden knows this.

When Brian O'Driscoll went absent with leave to rehabilitate his pinched nerve, McFadden was there to carry out coach Joe Schmidt's instructions at 13 for the Heineken Cup champions against Montpellier in France.

Initially seen as a straight ahead 12 for his direct, gainline hustle and bustle, the Suncroft three-quarter has stretched his array of skills to handle a number of positions very well indeed.

Does he have a preference for the inside or outside slot in midfield?

"I can play both, but 13 is probably my favourite, to be honest," he offered.

While O'Driscoll has adapted his game to make up for his loss of pace in attack, it is in the defensive system that he is renowned for making big plays that can snap an attack in two.

"It's kind of the fulcrum," added McFadden. "You are a bit vulnerable at the set pieces because the forwards are tight into lineouts and scrums. You have to make good reads out there, as Brian has showed over the last 11 years for Ireland.

"It is key in defence. I've probably played more at 12 under Joe and I'm happy to play either. I feel like I can do good things at both positions.

"You probably get your hands on the ball in a bit more space (at 13) and you've to make some good reads in defence.

"Depending on the type of game, you might get your hands on the ball a bit more at 12 and be a bit more of a playmaker. Both have their pros and cons".

When Isa Nacewa was sidelined by a rib problem last Saturday, McFadden didn't have to be asked twice to measure up on the wing against Benetton Treviso for the PRO12 League in Italy.

The great clubs around Europe are not built on the back of an elite few, but a wider base of solid and improving professionals with motivation and ambition to become the number one.

That is why Leinster were able to succeed in overcoming Treviso in Italy this season where they failed last. The collective will is stronger and better.

"Going over to Treviso, after last year, we wanted to put a real ownership on the jersey and whatever number you are putting on in a Leinster shirt," said McFadden.

"Jenno (Shane Jennings) and Joe (Schmidt) said they were very proud of us after the game, because, hopefully, any team looking at us will look at us as Leinster and not just a couple of superstars. We are trying to build that culture".

Cardiff Blues are next on the list in the PRO12 League at the RDS on Friday night.