Saturday 20 January 2018

Fergus McFadden: Pulling on Leinster jersey is the perfect tonic for World Cup blues

When you fall off the horse - and that happens a lot in our game - you have to get back on and that's what I did

Fergus McFadden says he can't wait to run out in front of the Leinster fans at the RDS
Fergus McFadden says he can't wait to run out in front of the Leinster fans at the RDS
Leinster head coach Leo Cullen
'It was special to be back on the field with Isa Nacewa after his return to the club'

Fergus McFadden

A new season and hopefully a new era. It was great to hear Leo had taken charge and to be honest it was nice clarity for the players and staff when he got appointed as head coach. You never want something like that to drag but once we knew the job had been offered to him we knew the rest would fall into place and we were delighted that it did just that.

The level of respect that Leo has from supporters is easy to understand. A quick look at his sporting CV and the highs that he has led Leinster to is incredible. Not many can match it. But what shouldn't be underestimated is how highly the players that played with him, and indeed under him as a forwards coach last year, regard him. We are all eager to play for him and to learn from him and we can't wait to pull on a jersey again on Saturday.

Having said all that, last week was not the best of starts over in Meggetland in Scotland but hopefully we can bounce back in our first home game of the season against Cardiff Blues in the RDS tomorrow.

On a personal level, Meggetland did offer the perfect distraction. After receiving disappointing news on my omission from the Irish World Cup squad selection, it was nice to get straight back into Leinster on the Monday. The positive for me is that I'm in great condition after a good pre-season with Ireland and hopefully I can add as much as possible to Leinster now in this important period at the start of the season.

But there is no getting away from it - there are plenty of ups and downs throughout a rugby career and you have to take the good with the bad.

As for Meggetland, it was a rusty performance against Edinburgh and looking back on the game as a team we saw that our basics let us down in a couple of areas. Edinburgh have become a difficult team to beat at home and as much as we wanted to get the win it was important to pick up a losing bonus point.

As we saw last season, the margins are getting smaller in the Guinness Pro12. There are difficult games throughout the season now and there are four to five teams that are good enough to win the trophy.

With a lot of new faces on the team-sheet last week, I'm definitely feeling like one of the older heads in the changing room with all the Irish lads gone on World Cup duty. The level of talent that has come through from the Academy is high quality and it's a credit to the system that's in place.

Training has been competitive and refreshing with all the new faces and there is definitely a good energy at the moment with everyone eager to impress the new management.

Looking back on the game, it was probably our inability to hold onto the ball for repeated phases. We didn't get a lot of access into the game at set-piece time and when the rain came in the second half the conditions were quite difficult to get ourselves back into the game.

It was special to be back on the field with Isa Nacewa after his return to the club. I can't speak highly enough of the guy and I've learned so much throughout his time with us. His experience and talent is so encouraging for some of the young lads to be around.

I've no doubt he will receive a great reception on his return to the RDS and hopefully it will be a winning one!

Cardiff put on a very impressive show in their first game against Zebre on Sunday at home, winning by a convincing 61 points to 13. They scored 11 tries and played some very open, free-flowing rugby. They have threats all over the field and lost very few to international duty. With guys like Turnbull, Navidi and backs like Rhys Patchell and Dan Fish, they have potent runners. So we will need to be much improved to bounce back in the right fashion in our second game.

I got my first cap against Cardiff back in 2007 which seems like a long time ago now, with some young lads in the squad in line to get their first tomorrow night I hope it can be on a positive start for them too. I can't wait to run out in front of the RDS again - and, hopefully, you will be there to cheer us on in blue!

Irish Independent

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