The Insider: Building on Montpellier display is key
HQ was full of energy this week after a bonus-point win but how to kick on this weekend is our focus now
We arrived into UCD on Monday morning after a pleasing bonus-point win last weekend against Montpellier in the RDS Arena. Just like the two games last season, it was a hugely physical game and we had to really put our bodies on the line on more than one occasion. With the likes of Nadolo and Du Plessis running at you, there was bound to be some sore bodies come Monday. Montpellier have bulk but allied to that is the fact that their bulk also carries pace, skill and power and they also had it in abundance off the bench. So there was no let-up!
Personally, it was a great game to be involved in as it was my 50th cap for Leinster and a nice way to mark it at home in the RDS in front of family and friends. There are no guarantees that milestones like that will go your way and they could be memorable for all the wrong reasons but thankfully it played out as well as we all could have hoped.
Playing against a dominant French side, who have been powering through most teams in France and then turning their eye to Europe with some world-class players, makes the performance all the sweeter. Winning also helped!
After Leo and Stuart's reviews in the morning, we soon turned the page to Glasgow. I know this is a cliché that rugby and athletes in general get a lot of abuse over but that is the nature of professional sport. You really are focused on the game in front of you. That next challenge. So when people ask about a game three weeks away or challenging for end-of-season honours, it really is difficult to look that far ahead because all you see is the game and the opposition that coming weekend. And this week all eyes are on Glasgow.
These weeks are incredibly exciting as the mood in camp changes slightly. There is a focused energy around the building knowing the challenge of the game ahead. With Storm Ophelia turning up on Monday, the decision was made to stay indoors for training. Usually Monday is the day to nail down your plays and outline the game-plan. So not being on the field didn't affect us.
Tuesday, being the more physically demanding day, we trained on the 4G pitch in Donnybrook with an eye to Scotstoun, where Glasgow like to play quick-tempo rugby. The Leinster 'A' team are also in action this weekend in Donnybrook so it was a busy morning as both squads got their preparations right.
Later that day we had a squad activity planned. We headed for a feed in the Bridge, where Jamie, Seánie and the Kearneys put on a decent spread to be fair to them, and then onto The Nightmare Realm in the RDS. It's ideal to get these activities in, especially during big weeks. They help to form a closer group and drive lads to play for their brothers at the weekends. I'm not sure what some of the backs found scarier, The Nightmare Realm or Nemani Nadolo running at them last weekend…
Wednesday was our day off which usually means into college and up for the 9.0am lecture. After the lecture I met up with Garry Ringrose to prepare for our Financial Accounting exam in Smurfit later that evening. Somehow I feel neither of us will choose to go down the accounting road post-rugby! And after seeing how the exam went, I'm not sure they'd want us to!
Thursday was all about preparing for Glasgow. There is a responsibility on everyone in the squad to provide a high standard at training. If we train at match intensity then it transitions into the weekend fixture. We also like to train in scenarios so that come the game there is a sense of familiarity. We manage pressure situations in games exactly how we would have trained on Thursday morning in UCD. You often hear kickers talking about visualising being in the back garden and no matter what the pressure they revert to that scenario in their heads. No pressure. Just another kick. That familiarity is the same here.
So a huge weekend for Leinster Rugby and a chance to put both teams in good stead in the Champions Cup and the B&I Cup. Here's to two big performances in Scotstoun and in Donnybrook.