Saturday 21 April 2018

Hectic times for everyone at Leinster HQ

Player Diary: Rory O'Loughlin

O’Loughlin: It was a massive honour to play alongside Jamie Heaslip. Photo: Sportsfile
O’Loughlin: It was a massive honour to play alongside Jamie Heaslip. Photo: Sportsfile

It's always easier coming in on Monday morning after a win but last weekend was a little bit special. The country as a whole seemed to be on a bit of a high after that weekend of sport.

Leinster and Ireland winning and then of course Scotland winning... everyone got a nice lift! I was sidelined due to a knock I took early in the Scarlets game the week before so acting as a spectator over the weekend made for very pleasant viewing.

Jamie Heaslip celebrating his Heineken Cup victory in 2012. Photo: Sportsfile
Jamie Heaslip celebrating his Heineken Cup victory in 2012. Photo: Sportsfile

I spent Friday night cheering the boys on to an impressive victory in the RDS and then Saturday in the Aviva... but my own joy wasn't confined to rugby. As a Manchester City fan I was delighted to see them lift what is hopefully the first of many trophies this season.

There was a sense of excitement around the game at the RDS on Friday with a nice blend of youth and experience in the 23.

It was great to see Garry and JT return from injury and it was also a big night for Ciarán Frawley, who made his first start at 10, and Adam Coyle, who made his Leinster debut.

I thought Ciarán built on his impressive debut against the Scarlets the week before with a nice 19-point haul.

Ciarán Frawley. Photo: Sportsfile
Ciarán Frawley. Photo: Sportsfile

Coyler has been in with us for a couple of months now and has worked incredibly hard so I was delighted to see him get rewarded for that on Friday night.

It was strange to come in on Monday afternoon though and to see the Scarlets preview up on the screen again having only played them two weeks ago. This short turnaround between home and away fixtures is quite unique, although ultimately the weather has prevented us from playing the reigning champions twice in a fortnight.

The mistakes that were identified in the review of the first game are still fresh in the mind of the players, as well as new areas identified in that game that we failed to exploit.

We'll just have to go through those areas all over again when we finally get to play the fixture!

It's a shame that we won't get a shot at them tomorrow because a win would have nicely rounded off a successful period for the squad while the internationals have been away, therefore the intensity in training this week has been ramped up.

Away from the Scarlets review and prep for the weekend, Monday also brought disappointing news when Jamie announced his retirement from the game. It was no surprise that tributes, from renowned players around Ireland and the rest of the rugby world, were flooding social media channels throughout the day.

The common trend throughout all the posts highlighted the professionalism he brought to his training and preparation, as well as the mood he would generate around him every day.

By spending even a week training alongside Jamie this would become clear to anyone and that was the case when I first came in.

On any given week you would see him do whatever extras needed to have his body ready for training that day and the game at the weekend.

It was crazy as a young kid coming into the Academy and seeing what it took to stay fit at the very top level, that commitment level is still something I'm trying to aspire too. Off the pitch, however, he was always up for a bit of a laugh and got on with everyone in the place. Every day he would show up to UCD with a positive attitude that was infectious, a quality I feel played a massive part in him becoming world class for such a long time.

From a personal point of view, as a schoolboy watching Jamie win a Grand Slam and three Heineken Cups, to then being lucky enough to play for Leinster domestically and in Europe with him, was a massive honour for me.

There is no question that he is one of the greatest to have played for Leinster. He has been such an integral part in every trophy the club has won over the last decade and a half and I've no doubt he will be successful in this next chapter of his life.

He will be missed massively on the pitch and in the changing room but everyone wishes him and his wife Sheena the very best of luck for the future.

Irish Independent

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