Monday 22 January 2018

With our injury list, some of us need to be bigger leaders out on the field

Ultan Dillane's season is over
Ultan Dillane's season is over

Tiernan O'Halloran - Player Diary

It's been a difficult run of games for us, and losing two inter-pros back to back always leaves a sour taste in the mouth. But those defeats have come on the back of our own poor execution and we want to put that right straight away against Ospreys in Wales tomorrow.

Christmas was a bit different this season, because we played Ulster on December 23. Usually our festive game is on St Stephen's Day but this year we could spend a couple of days at home.

It was nice to get that time with my family after the game against Ulster. It's always good to enjoy some time off over the festive period, especially around the people you grew up with.

But it was back to business after that. We were back training on St Stephen's Day for the Munster game. That was a massive game for us, not only because it was a big inter-provincial derby but we pride ourselves on our home performances.

After the defeat last weekend we are all disappointed with ourselves. With the inter-pro games at Christmas, there will always be sold-out crowds and a great atmosphere. And it is always going to be tough with our squad stretched with injuries and illness around the place.

DISRUPTED

We knew it wouldn't be easy after our training week was disrupted and we didn't have our usual standard of preparation. But at the end of the day that's not an excuse and it's up to the lads who go out on the pitch to put in a big performance.

Unfortunately in both inter-pro games we let ourselves down, and that's something that we have to get right.

At the moment we are not getting into games early and we are letting the lead slip. Then we are not able to get back into contention and the opponents get out of reach.

But I don't think anyone has dropped their head in terms of what we can do going forward. We are still only halfway through the season and we have that game in hand against Zebre to come.

The big thing we were disappointed with was losing at home. Losing that game to Munster was a very frustrating one all-round but we can't push the panic buttons either.

We aren't where we want to be on the Pro12 table and there is a lot of work to do, but we trust in the game-plan and we know that we can get back up there. The things that worked for us last year will work once we start to execute again. That comes down to players getting things right in training and hopefully that will translate to the pitch again on match-day.

We also know that it doesn't get much tougher than going over to Ospreys this weekend. They are one of the form teams in the league and are playing probably the best rugby in the competition. Hopefully we will get one or two lads back from injury in time for the game and can really have a crack at them.

Ospreys are a tough one because they like to throw the ball around - they are similar to us. They have a very dangerous back three, with Keelan Giles and Eli Walker on the wings and Dan Evans at 15. We know that we can't be kicking loosely to them. With the pace that they have, they will punish you.

And with Dan Biggar or Sam Davies they have a very good kicking game as well. Liberty Stadium has a very good playing surface too so we will need to get the back-field cover right knowing we can't let them into the game.

As a back-three unit we have been a bit disappointed in recent weeks and we have been working on that collectively. Hopefully we can get those small things right and we will start getting more front-foot ball to attack off.

But when you have a team like Ospreys who have back-rows that can get quick ball and then also have a dangerous back-line like that you cannot afford to give them any chances.

Our back-rows will have to have a big day slowing down their ball. We have also been killing ourselves lately with the amount of turnovers we have coughed up. Ospreys will cause damage if you do that, they can just spread it wide and score tries at will.

The more experienced guys like myself really need to step up now and we have been talking about that in recent weeks. When you have a few injuries like this, some of us need to be bigger leaders out on the field.

It is important to get the winning habit and the feeling of that, back again.

We have two huge European games coming up but you don't want to be going into that on the back of three disappointing performances.

That's the biggest disappointment for us. Against Ulster we felt we were in the game, and then we let in a soft try off the lineout - a good execution by Ulster, but a system error from us.

Then against Munster, the weather was tough but small little errors crept in and the discipline let us down.

We need to put in a better performance in Ospreys and that leads into another huge home European game against Zebre that we need to win and try and get maximum points from as well.

Going over to Ospreys this weekend, we need to build up that confidence again. We know we can scores tries and win games against the very best but it's time we showed it out on the field again.

Irish Independent

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