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Now not the time to rest on laurels

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Ireland's Rob Kearney and Brian O'Driscoll. Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Ireland's Rob Kearney and Brian O'Driscoll. Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Ireland's Rob Kearney and Brian O'Driscoll. Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

WHAT a weekend! What a truly remarkable game and what a way for Brian to bow out of his incredible international career.

I feel everybody involved in the squad and all the additional staff, as well as all the coaches, deserve a huge amount of respect after what they have achieved. It has put the country on a high.

There was an incredible amount of good will and comments before the game about Brian – which in fairness must have been distracting – about it being his last game and I felt it was nearly getting out of hand until I saw the Temple Street YouTube video of all the children thanking him and wishing him well.

I honestly thought it was one of the best things I've ever seen. He has brought so much joy to those sick children as well as pretty much the whole of the country, and I just think he deserves every bit of credit he gets.

Brian would be the first to say it but it really was a huge squad effort with lots of new young faces and some who have been there for a while. Everybody contributed and hopefully this is a sign of things to come in the future.

Some of the lads, the non-starters in Paris, made their way back into training on Tuesday and it was fantastic to welcome them back.

SPIRITS

Everybody is in good spirits as we find ourselves on top of the PRO12 with a hugely successful Six Nations league period behind us.

19 points out of the 20 on offer is not too bad in my book considering the distractions that were taking place. A lot of lads stepped up and played very well for the province over the last six to eight weeks and deserve a lot of credit.

It's no time to rest on our laurels though. We want to have 11 weeks left in our season. We want to be in the semi-finals and finals of both the PRO12 and the Heineken Cup.

We will take every game as it comes and treat every team with the respect they deserve but at Leinster we set our standards very high. It won't be easy and it's a huge period for the club and this weekend is the start of it.

For me, it's all about time management. I have a number of assignments due as well as exams coming up, and a proposal for my thesis! Studying gives me a great balance and helps me get away from rugby when I need to, but it also makes me enjoy my rugby so much more.

Training this week has been great with a re-focus on our core skills. Come this time of the year it's so important to perform the basics well.

When the pressure comes on that's when you need to be able to execute. The training level has been good but if the truth be told it needs to improve. We need everybody pushing for positions and hungry to play against the likes of Munster, Toulon, Ulster, Edinburgh and all the other big teams around Europe.

For now, we must focus on Zebre. They're a team that deserves respect and if we don't give it to them they will come over and do a job on us. They have a strong squad now that there Italian players will be available and with the like of Brendon Leonard back, they have a number of players who can cause problems. Our preparation has been good so now it's up to the lads to do the job.


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