Sunday 25 February 2018

Fergus McFadden: Balancing act with Leinster and Ireland all part of the job

Fergus McFadden. Photo: Sportsfile
Fergus McFadden. Photo: Sportsfile
Fergus McFadden
Fergus McFadden

Fergus McFadden

Switch between Leinster HQ and Carton House can be tricky process but it's a vote of confidence

A week is a long time in politics and with the current discussions around the upcoming election those weeks will feel even longer.

It certainly feels like a long time ago since we travelled over to Wales to play the Dragons two weeks ago but it was not one we will forget too quickly.

Unfortunately, despite long periods of possession and plenty of inroads into their 22, we came away from the fixture with nothing as the Dragons took all four points and made their home advantage count. It now leaves us back amongst the fighting pack in the top four and places even more importance on the next few matches.

This time of the season generally stretches our squad and tests the strength in depth when a lot of players are away on international duty. It's a good time for younger players to get opportunities and game-time but it's critical that we get as many points in this window of games as possible.

For me, the week was a delicate balancing act between prepping for the Zebre game with Leinster and then obviously being in camp with the Irish set-up in Carton House ahead of their massive game with France this weekend.

I really enjoy being in here with Leinster and while of course there is disappointment to not make the initial Six Nations squad, I also know that my suspension didn't help my case. So when I'm here playing for Leinster and competing in the Guinness Pro12 I give my all and it's my sole focus. You can't afford to let any disappointment linger because that won't help your cause either. You know you need to perform in blue in case the call comes.

That being said, of course when the phone goes your heart jumps and you get that nervous excitement. First of all, it reaffirms that you are still on the national team radar and then you want to do your best to help the lads prepare as best they can for France.

The first game against Wales was ferociously physical for both teams and there were certainly some bruised bodies in training that needed some more time to fully recover.

Ireland were probably disappointed not to get the win but all in all a draw is not the end of the world. The competition is still in their hands and if they go on to win the remaining games they could be in a position to create history by becoming the first team to win it three times in a row.

As for me, I was delighted to get the call to be on the bench tomorrow and will give my all if called upon.

Back with Leinster, last week was a down week for the squad so guys got an opportunity to switch off mentally and get a much-needed rest physically after 16 weeks on the bounce.

The group will be recharged and ready now to tackle some tough fixtures in this block of games which are always pivotal in the league season. A lot of younger lads have been knocking on the door this season so this block will present more game-time to more guys.

Looking back on the Dragons game, it was a combination of things that we didn't get right on the day. The weather was terrible but both teams had to deal with that and in fairness to Dragons they coped better than us.

We didn't respect the ball enough and in wet and windy conditions it will always be a long day at the office if you continue to produce unforced errors and turn over the ball. We have taken away a lot of work-ons as a group from the costly lesson and will hopefully be able to express them against a fired-up Zebre this evening.

Zebre are a team that are much improved this year and already have won more games at this stage than they did all last year.

They are a very physical team so we will need to front up against them to get a foothold in the game. Last year they fought for every minute and this year will be no different.

Get down in blue to the RDS to cheer us on against Zebre.

It's the best way to kick off a great weekend of rugby!

Irish Independent

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