Wednesday 18 September 2019

Player's Diary: It'd be hard to beat a win in the RDS as the ideal season's gift

Sean O’Brien goes over to score his second try during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 3 Round 4 match between Perpignan and Connacht at the Stade Aime Giral in Perpignan, France. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Sean O’Brien goes over to score his second try during the European Rugby Champions Cup Pool 3 Round 4 match between Perpignan and Connacht at the Stade Aime Giral in Perpignan, France. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Robin Copeland

We've done well over the last few weeks and it's nice to play some good rugby before we get into the thick of the Christmas interprovincial derbies. I can't wait for them to get going.

A big turning point for us was the defeat to Ospreys at Bridgend on October 26. It was more the manner of the loss that hurt us and everyone took a big look at themselves after that.

It was very frustrating how we managed the game, some of our personal performances weren't where we want to be.

We have talked a lot since then and have used that game as a reference point, to see how far we have come and gauge where we are at all the way through.

As a forward pack especially we have come on a lot in the last couple of months and people are starting to take notice. Our scrum, maul and lineout, it's all been running very well.

Stranglehold

It is an area where we feel we can go to if the chips are down and we need to get a stranglehold back in the game.

Last weekend was massive. Winning is a habit and we needed to keep the momentum going.

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It was in the forefront of people's minds that you can't have an off-week before you play the European champions, you need to hit the ground running and be in good form and have that confidence really high.

That was in everyone's minds and despite the fact that Perpignan haven't been going that well, they are still a great team with some dangerous players, especially in the backs. We dealt with them fairly well so that was positive.

Confidence is high. We have put some good performances together and even though sometimes the opposition weren't as strong as where we set ourselves, there has always been an eye on the interpros.

We knew we needed to get some good performances and confidence going into those. We did that fairly well, and it has all been leading up to this week with Leinster away. It doesn't really get much bigger.

This is the game that everyone has been trying to be involved in and thankfully everyone has been playing well. Competition is high.

A lot of people are back fit now, especially in the pack. There are a lot of guys putting their hands up for selection so it's going to be tough for the coaches to make calls in the next few weeks.

It's not too often you get a win over Leinster. They are the best team in the northern hemisphere at the minute. To get a scalp off them would be incredible - it's not something they are going to want to let happen especially at home, they are really hard to beat there.

We have our work cut out but at the same time I don't think there has been a better opportunity to take a scalp off them than this weekend because we are in a great place.

We are very focused. There is a lot of self-belief around at the moment and I am looking forward to a great game.

I have had my fair share of Christmas interpros but not as a Connacht player. It's a hard one to keep yourself calm for sometimes.

Those are the games you know people are watching. Those are the big games you want to play in and you work hard to get the opportunity to play in them.

Although you want to have your adrenalin pumping you don't want to make too many mistakes because you are too hyped up.

It's about managing yourself during the week, keeping to your usual routine and backing up what you have done during the week and in the weeks previous, it's going to stand to you.

It's probably between myself and Paul Boyle as to who will start in the No 8 jersey this weekend and I quite enjoy the battle we have going on there. Two Gorey lads fighting it out for the Connacht No 8 jersey.

The two of us have a good relationship. We give each other advice. He is a very hard worker and an intelligent guy. I really like the way he plays. I encourage him where I can and he encourages me.

We are lucky enough to both be in a position where we are both going to play a lot of rugby. I hope he does go well in the future, he has been massive for us this year and going forward.

Known

We are about 10 minutes away from each other in Wexford. I wouldn't have known him that well beforehand at all.

I have been away for the last seven or eight years. He was only in school when I was there. But he is a top man who I get on very well with.

Saying all that I don't know whether we're sharing the car journey back home for Christmas just yet.

Normally I would go home on Christmas Eve. I go back to Wexford and see the nephews and nieces, see the family, have the dinner. Go around and see the parish. Just chill out and eat lots of food.

Thankfully this year the game is on December 28 and we have a late start on the 26th so I will probably stay there on Christmas night and then travel back on St Stephen's Day.

It will be nice to have the whole of Christmas Day at home, I haven't had that in a long time.

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