Saturday 18 November 2017

A spring in the step as the sun shines on HQ

Everyone is buzzing at the moment with the weather, the dry ball and the visit to the reigning champions

It's been a busy week at training and being tackled by Ospreys' pair Adam Beard and Jonathan Spratt at the RDS two weeks ago (SPORTSFILE)
It's been a busy week at training and being tackled by Ospreys' pair Adam Beard and Jonathan Spratt at the RDS two weeks ago (SPORTSFILE)
It's been a busy week at training and being tackled by Ospreys' pair Adam Beard and Jonathan Spratt at the RDS two weeks ago

Isa Nacewa

So I would like to confirm that I have indeed thawed out after the Cardiff game. It took a while but I got there! And it gets even better as this week in UCD has been glorious. Finally the sun has come out. Finally the ball is dry. Maybe Spring is actually here?

Hopefully I haven't jinxed it by saying that but the good weather puts everyone in good form. Not that you wouldn't be anyway but it starts as soon as the alarm goes off. No more dark winter wake-ups. The mornings are brighter and you know that all things being equal the weather should stay like that for the day. You don't pack the baselayer or the jacket.

And you see it when you walk into HQ. Everyone just looking forward to getting out there. In Rosemount in UCD where we train, it is always brilliantly maintained by the team up there but this week and the fresh cut that the grass got brought it to another level under the blue skies.

And then the training. Dry ball or wet, you still want to execute the basics but those basics are easier to master when the weather is like it has been.

So hopefully we can have more of that as the weeks roll on and as we head towards the finishing line.

The lads in with Ireland experienced something similar to what we have had this week. Could you have asked for a better day to play rugby than the Ireland v Italy game? It is always great to watch a fast running game of rugby when the sun is out.

Those basics that I spoke about above were executed brilliantly, in particular continuity and retention. The handling for Jamie's try was top drawer but again while the weather played a part, the players still have to execute, so credit to them.

But once again for the guys not involved in the last week of the Six Nations we have a huge game in front of us. Glasgow away has to be one of the hardest away fixtures in the league.

Glasgow have been the in-form team in the league the last few seasons and managed to win their first ever Pro12 title last season under Gregor Townsend.

Everyone knows the expansive style of play they like and in particular at home, they like to play. Talking to some of the boys involved last season over there we gave them a bit of a lead which we couldn't quite claw back and we can't afford to do that again.

This should be a week off or at least a weekend off but this is our back match from early December when it was pulled at the eleventh hour.

We weren't quite in the ground but we had our walk-through done and were just about to sit down for our pre-match meal so the focus had set in. To then have the game pulled - albeit in pretty awful weather conditions - was hugely disappointing at the time.

But now we have to look at it as an opportunity. An opportunity to kickstart the next block of crucial games against Connacht and Munster with an away game against the defending champions. It really helps us to target these three weeks. Two weekends off is great in theory but you just want to play at this time of the season so I think it's great to have three such high quality teams to play in a row.

After a narrow loss for the Leinster A's last weekend, in the British and Irish Cup, everyone is training extra hard to impress the coaches to be involved against Glasgow and I think the training has gone well. It is up to us now to put that into practice on the pitch tomorrow.

Since we were last talking Dominic Ryan - or Dippy as he is known in here - has added cap 100 to his already impressive playing CV. He is a hugely popular member of the squad and we were delighted for him against Ospreys to get the 100 caps and the win to top it all.

At the other end of the spectrum, what a week it must be for Joey Carbery, after several really impressive outings for the A team, we all hope he gets his chance to get his first Leinster cap today.

But Glasgow is our only focus this week. Playing the reigning champions demands a championship mindset.

Not just on Friday but in all our preparations. See you at Scotstoun.

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