Wednesday 19 December 2018

Celebrations over for Tracy as Leinster keep focused

Leinster's James Tracy. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster's James Tracy. Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Leinster may be keen to move on from the weekend triumph that confirmed their status as Champions Cup favourites but there are some loose ends to tie up.

Dan Leavy's try-scoring celebration, for one. While the execution of the score may have been perfect, what followed was less so.

"I'm sure he (Leavy) is happy with his Robbie Keane celebration," said hooker James Tracy, dishing out the ribbing. "He has been working on that one. I'm glad I got in there before the bow and arrow came out. It would have been a bit much."

Poor Rory O'Loughlin was almost decapitated by the flanker's gleeful free-wheeling.

"I don't think he (Leavy) knew what he was doing, it was like he had never scored a try before. It was a bizarre enough tumble," said Tracy.

Tracy knows this is the only way to derive a public forfeit.

"He's running at full tilt and his knuckles are nearly hitting off the ground. And another thing we picked up on, for someone with very long arms, he has very short pockets."

Leinster deserved their reflective moments after Saturday's final whistle but no more; a semi-final awaits but Leo Cullen's men are deeply aware that they fell at the same hurdle last year.

"When you have players like Johnny Sexton and others that have won a Grand Slam this year, you can't celebrate like you've won it yet because there's nothing won," explained Kildare man Tracy.

"As big a game as it was - it was huge beating the two-time champions - we haven't won anything yet. We are delighted with our performance. Discipline-wise, we could have been better.

"It was a great feeling, special, for the lads to be able to share with their families and their kids - and my family but it is cup rugby and on to the next one."

Stuart Lancaster, so influential in terms of Leinster's tactical and mental preparations, will borrow from a script he picked up when helping the NFL side, the Atlanta Falcons, 'SUMO' - Shut up and move on.

"We have our review of the game and then we have a mantra of SUMO, we are on to the next bit," said Tracy of the post-game process.

"We've looked at what was good and what was bad, and break into different units. Then we do our weights session and we're now on Zebre focus."

Tracy, who has six Ireland caps to date, revealed that there would be some rotation in personnel for Saturday's clash at the RDS.

"There will be a few fresh faces in and everyone is looking forward to what we can do in the league because if we don't win these games, it will damage us in terms of getting a home semi-final and making our path easier at the back end," he said.

"We're not underestimating Zebre because they have won in Ireland and beaten Connacht twice and we have had some tough fixtures against us so we need to win some home games to leave us in good nick for the knock-out stages."

Two games against Italians hardly represents the heaviest of lifting, despite the their respective marked improvements this term.

Treviso is handily scheduled just a week out from the semi-final; an ideal road test for the European squad, presuming most will be rested this weekend.

Nothing is guaranteed however; another Lancaster lesson from the NFL is the nature in which Superbowl winners earn a ring; in Leinster, it's a star worn on the match jersey but nowhere else.

Tracy explained: "Stu says it's the only tangible thing nobody can take away from you ever; when you win it is that star.

"That's something we're all striving toward - something that I can have that I can say 'I was proud of that'. I'm obviously extremely proud of the lads that have gone before me, but I wasn't lucky enough to play in those games.

"I want to be involved in those in the future and hopefully leave something behind me."

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