Wednesday 21 February 2018

Player Diary: Plenty of Blue interest in World Cup finale

We may not have anyone in green playing at weekend, but we'll be rooting for Cheika and Kane

Daragh Fanning and his Leinster team-mates will be aiming for an away victory against Treviso
Daragh Fanning and his Leinster team-mates will be aiming for an away victory against Treviso

Darragh Fanning

Well, unfortunately, I predicted it wrong three weeks ago. This isn't a diary giving a preview for Ireland's Rugby World Cup final.

To be honest, enough has been written in the press and discussed in pubs about why we aren't there and I'm not going to try to dissect Ireland's loss to Argentina any more than what has already been said and done. But I do think the lads did the whole country proud and really brought a great buzz to the nation for the last month or so.

Some of the scenes on TV of Irish fans at the games and the stories that I have heard are amazing. It's been said many times before but for such a small nation we really get behind our teams and I know come Japan 2019 it will probably be a sea of green again. Even if getting the ferry over might be more of a logistical nightmare next time around!

Looking ahead to tomorrow, it is lining up to be a great final.

Australia and New Zealand have been the two best teams all competition long and if the weather holds up it will be a really exciting game of attacking rugby.

Personally, I would love to see Australia win it as I spent a great 18 months playing over there (in 2011-2012) and have some great memories but on the flip side I will have to listen to all my Aussie mates bragging about being the best team in the world . . .

I think the scrum could be a massive factor in the game and if my old Canberra Vikings team-mate Scott Sio is fit it will be a big advantage for the Wallabies.

They also have the Leinster connection with Kane Douglas and Michael Cheika so here is hoping for a great game and an Australian win.

Back to Leinster, and it was a great week for the club with two great wins for our squad before the return of the Irish World Cup players.

The 'A' team had a great win on a surprisingly calm evening in Ballynahinch against Ulster Ravens. Besides me bringing up the average age, it was a very young side who ended up winning 37-7. The scoreline was flattering to us as it was a tough 80 minutes and we were only up by six at the break. There were some great performances with Blackrock College past pupils David O'Connor and Joey Carbery two of the stand-outs.

Next up for the 'A's is Connacht next week in Donnybrook and it will be another great opportunity for those young lads to show what they can do so get down on Thursday to see them in action.

That win was followed up on Friday evening with a massive win against last year's Guinness Pro12 champions Glasgow. After a tough first half the boys came out firing right after half-time when Luke McGrath used all of his considerable height to stretch and just get the ball over the line.


Again it was another night for the young guns as Garry Ringrose, who has been improving week on week on the wing, got a well-deserved man of the match award.

It was a really important win to for the lads who have been around since the start of July in UCD working to get the team off to a strong start. Already since the start of the week with the Irish lads filtering back in there is a different buzz around the place.

There is a massive few weeks ahead, we need to keep getting wins in the Pro12 and stay in touch with the leaders. The other challenge, without getting ahead of ourselves, is the Champions Cup which is just a few weeks away.

This week it's Treviso which starts off the next block in our season and it is traditionally a physical affair over there. Treviso have lost their three home games this season but have been within four points of winning each game which shows they aren't going to be a pushover.

I know as a squad we never underestimate our opponents but last year over there we scored early and dropped concentration, which led to us drawing the game. It was dropped points like that which left us with too much ground to make up at the end of the year.

After the horrible rain this week I hope the ever-faithful Leinster travelling support get some rays on their backs! For us, it'll be about another four points.

Safe travels!

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