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McFadden: These are the weeks when the Pro12 title is won

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"As for me? Patience is key. I have been back training this week but I have to make sure that I don't rush back either"

"As for me? Patience is key. I have been back training this week but I have to make sure that I don't rush back either"

"As for me? Patience is key. I have been back training this week but I have to make sure that I don't rush back either"

Mid-November and the weeks are flying by. It is hard to believe that the first block is nearly done with seven Guinness Pro12 games played, the two Champions Cup games done and after this weekend the Autumn Series will be at an end.

This is a very important stage of the season for both club and country. For Ireland it's about building confidence and consistency in three tough Tests before the lead-up to the Six Nations.

For Leinster, with lads away on international duty for the next two Pro12 games, it's about getting as many points as possible to make sure that we continue our assault on the top four.

Ireland's autumn series so far has been a massive success with two wins from two. Leading into the series pundits would have settled for wins against Georgia and Australia. The appointment of Michael Cheika as Australian coach then had some questioning the chances of a win over them, particularly with the injury list we had accumulated. Yet with that one final game to go, we stand the chance of a clean sweep.

The win against South Africa was a big step for Joe Schmidt and the team moving towards the Six Nations but more so the World Cup next September.

With Ireland's list of injuries and a win over southern hemisphere teams difficult to come by at the best of times, it was a great building block for us in terms of confidence in our systems but also in the depth of the talent we have available.

There was no point in that victory being a flash in the pan either and I am delighted that it wasn't. Following that win over the Springboks with a good win against a combative Georgian side who were tough to break down was a huge positive. The team is in a really good place going into the Australia game.

Ireland won't need any incentive after the 32-15 loss last year in the Aviva. It was a game some people felt we would win what with Joe coming in and we had a good win the previous week against Samoa. It's not a nice one for me either to think back on as I broke my hand during the game, leaving me out of action for eight weeks.

It's a fascinating encounter this year with the return of Cheika to Ireland after coaching Leinster to success in the Pro12 and most memorably the Heineken Cup for the first time. He brought that Midas touch with him to the Waratahs in Australia too and they won the Super 15 title this year with Kane Douglas to the fore.

There's no doubting Cheika's ability to pull a group tightly together and working towards the same goal and I think Australia will be ones to watch going into the next World Cup under him.

Joe has a completely different task this week in tackling a strategy to take down the Aussies. They will look to throw the ball around so they will challenge us more in defence.

South Africa was a really impressive Test match for us defensively and the fact we only conceded one try with the amount of possession they had was brilliant.

Hopefully the squad can put in another big performance and if we are as clinical at our set-piece I have no doubt Joe will have plays to break them down and score tries.

Three from three would be serious momentum to bring into the Six Nations!

This time of the season at Leinster is equally important. It was during this block of games and the Six Nations block when international players were away that the Pro12 was won for us last year. It's a huge two weeks for the club in lots of ways - to build momentum going into Europe for one and to also keep winning to try and push into the top four in the Pro12. It's a time that provides players that have been on the periphery the chance to stake a claim for spots leading into the Harlequins games.

As for me? Patience is key. I have been back training this week but I have to make sure that I don't rush back either.

Either way hopefully we can get a much needed win over in Italy this weekend!

Irish Independent