Sunday 22 April 2018

McGrath: Winning culture on its way back to province

Jack McGrath: ‘We’re at the business end of the season. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself when you’re playing like that’. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Jack McGrath: ‘We’re at the business end of the season. It’s hard not to enjoy yourself when you’re playing like that’. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

From the opening kick-off last week, it was clear that the intensity in Leinster's play had been taken to a level that so often this season has been missing.

The biggest challenge they face in tomorrow's Pro12 final against Connacht is maintaining that because when they play with such ferocity, very few teams can live with them.

Ulster were blown away by a Leinster side who had saved their best performance of the season for the semi-final but Jack McGrath insists that it was a long time coming.

"Absolutely, we've been on the cusp of it for most of the season and it was just good that it came out when it did," the loosehead prop said.

"We've had a tough few games and we know we've been so close and haven't been clinical, a few things clicked at the weekend and we got a good start and scored after half-time when they had that pressure on us. It was great, it was a relief because we know we have it in us.

"It's hard to remember that you're playing a sport you love when times are tough. We're at the business end of the season, it's hard not to enjoy yourself when you're playing like that and there is silverware on the line.

"It's a great place to be and there's good confidence gained from the weekend but there's hard work to be done this week."

As both camps play down the favourites' tag, deep down, Leinster will know that if they play to their full potential, they are the ones who should be crowned Pro12 champions.

Connacht, however, have been outstanding this season and McGrath insists that Leinster will be doing everything within their power to deny them their first ever trophy.

"We lost to these boys down there and there was a lot of hurt because we were so close," he explained.

"The game in The RDS was pretty tight and if you look at both of those games they were fairly abrasive and I don't think anything's going to change this weekend.

"If you can't get up for a final or a semi-final, you shouldn't be here and it's going to be no different this weekend.

"It's a week to be enjoyed but there has to be a lot of pressure put on us as well, it's a good place to be at the moment. The camaraderie is there and it's just a bit of craic.


"We have been building and the standards being set inside and outside, in the gym and on the pitch, quality of knowing your plays, down to lineouts, down to what ruck you have to go to, down to those little details."

Fuelled by the pain of missing out on last year's final, McGrath is desperate to win back the title that they relinquished.

"I remember thinking: 'This is somewhere you never want to be again'. Just left in limbo, training until the middle of May with nothing to play for.

"So, I think everyone got a bit of a root at the end of last season to buck up.

"It's not just going to happen for us, we have to work hard. It is a squad effort, even the young guys realise that now.

"Maybe previously, they'd come in and winning was a culture that just happened, but it has to be rebuilt.

"It's happening again, which is great to see."

Irish Independent

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