Wednesday 26 September 2018

Benetton will not fear coming to the RDS, warns McFadden

Fergus McFadden. Photo: Sportsfile
Fergus McFadden. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

After easily dispatching of one Italian team last weekend, Leinster's aim tomorrow is to repeat the trick against the other.

A buoyant Benetton arrive in Dublin looking to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions Cup.

Kieran Crowley's men are expected to put up more of a fight than Zebre managed to do at the RDS, but even still Leinster will be resounding favourites to ensure that they go into the Champions Cup semi-final against the Scarlets on the back of another victory.

Fergus McFadden has, however, warned that his side's task might not be as straightforward as some people think, because Benetton are one of the most improved sides in the Guinness PRO14.

"You can't take them for granted," the winger insisted.

"They've improved a lot and beaten some good teams away and at home. Even when we played them away, we beat them by two scores but it was tight for the majority of the match and we had a pretty strong team out.

"They'll have no fear coming here, so they'll definitely be a bigger challenge then Zebre, but it's a tough one.

"Obviously we're week-by-week focused, as I'm sure you've heard enough times, but obviously in the back of our minds we've got Scarlets next week and you're trying to manage guys' game-time and not risking certain people with injuries but you also want to give them enough time so that they've got momentum.

"It's tough, but all I can say is that we're in a strong position in the conference at the moment after getting the five points last week, so hopefully we can do the same this week."

McFadden was one of several players who were given last week off following an intensive Six Nations period, but now back in the mix, the 31-year old is looking to play his way into selection for the Scarlets clash.


"The carrot is there every week," he maintained.

"I had a down week, which I certainly needed after being in that Six Nations block for eight weeks.

"So from a mental perspective as much as a physical one getting that break was nice, so that will stand to me coming into this business end of the season for sure.

"I think every professional sportsperson, and definitely rugby players, question themselves on a daily basis with different things, whether it's mistakes in training and being annoyed about that, or selection doesn't go your way one week.

"So it's a constant mental problem but it's about managing that and going back to managing the stuff that you can control.

"You can't control how someone else is going to play when they have their opportunity but you can just prep yourself as well as possible so that when you get yours, and I have thankfully this season, I'd like to think I'm good enough to keep my place."

McFadden has seen first hand, the work that the younger players are putting in and, like everyone else, he is very impressed by the levels that they are reaching.

It does however increase the level of competition that he faces for a place in the starting XV, but McFadden has never shied away from that challenge down through the years.

"The guys that have come in have been more professional coming straight into the set-up, I've noticed that particularly in the last two years," he added.

"The likes of Dan Leavy, James Ryan, Luke McGrath, just people like that who came out of school after being in a strong system with rugby they were playing, the weights block they were going through and when they got exposure at this level it took them less time to adjust and they were also great professionals off the field so that's probably what has been the massive difference.

"It adds more incentive to those who get the opportunities to play particularly and the guys who have got opportunities even last week or during that Six Nations block really stepped up so it is good."

Irish Independent

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