Monday 22 April 2019

McFadden looking to put hand up for Europe

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

Ryan Corry

Leinster Rugby are in a privileged position this week. With a PRO14 home semi-final already in the bag, they remain free to rotate their match-day 23 for the visit to Edinburgh.

Potentially, Leo Cullen will have players coming back from the Ireland camp that will feature, in need of 80 minutes or even just a confidence boost.

For Leinster and Edinburgh, other Irish provinces lay in wait around the corner, with Ulster and Munster, respectively, drawn in Europe.

And so, with all those players returning from Six Nations duty, what does it mean for the extended squad who, in Leinster's case, made sure it was business as normal in the PRO14?

Fergus McFadden was one of those who donned the blue jersey, as opposed to the green version, for the duration of the spring.

Having been injured against Munster in October, he was just delighted to be able to return to the field at the end of last month.

With that sort of luck so far this year, McFadden is ensuring that he keeps his goals in the short-term as he makes his way back to his best.

"The target this week is just to, hopefully, be playing and play well in this match. I'm not really going to be looking too far beyond that," he says.

"Obviously, I want to get back in the team for the biggest matches. It's kind of 'finals' rugby now really for us as of next week.

"We've got that European quarter-final so I just need to try and get my form right to try and break back into the team.

"The guys that have been in the team for the majority of the year while I've been injured have done a fantastic job so I've just got to stay fit and try to train very well and the opportunities I get, try and play well to get back in there."

As someone who, injury aside, would typically have been involved with the Ireland camp at this time of year, it's been refreshing for McFadden to see first-hand just how good the Leinster Academy products are.

"With the academy system the way it's set up, they seem to be ready-made to just play at a high level, which is great.

"I can learn from younger guys just like they can learn from me, so that's kind of the environment we have at the moment which is good.

"The environment we have at the moment, it doesn't matter if you're the youngest player or the oldest player, you should be contributing in meetings and on the training field."

Last year's defeat in Edinburgh highlights how dangerous they can be as opposition but for Leinster right now, the PRO14 is about playing for your place.

Edinburgh, on the other hand, will be geared for battle as a defeat could see a play-off spot slip further from their grasp.

"They've got a lot to play for in this game. We also do as well. We want to continue winning so we've got momentum going into that quarter-final."

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