Wednesday 21 February 2018

The Insider: We cannot let up, securing home advantage is huge

The inter-pros have a unique edge but our rivalry with the Warriors has become something special

Ross Molony. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Ross Molony. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Ross Molony - Player Diary

That was some Christmas! Three games in 11 days is a huge ask for any team. You can have all the depth in the world but that tests resources of players and backroom teams like nothing else.

Three inter-pro matches in 11 days is another story altogether. That just escalates it to another level. There is no let-up in any of the games.

It's a funny one to explain but I suppose there is a certain edge to playing against familiar faces, there is more at stake and I suppose an opportunity to showcase your ability with international selection in mind.

The tight schedule meant Leo Cullen and the other coaches had to rotate the team for each game.

I think we can count ourselves lucky, not only to have such a large squad, but to have such talent in each position that allows us to make these rotations. But as I mentioned having the depth is one thing, having players that can apply themselves in the right way and not let the side down is the next trick.

In all 37 players were used in these games. To come away with 14 out of a possible 15 points is something we can take huge confidence from heading into the critical stage of the season. And as I mentioned everyone applied themselves on a daily basis in training and then on match days. It was hugely satisfying for the group.

Ross Molony believes interprovincial success can be converted into Champions Cup victory this weekend. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Ross Molony believes interprovincial success can be converted into Champions Cup victory this weekend. Photo: SPORTSFILE

I played in the second of the three games, against Connacht. Having been involved in a few Connacht match-ups in the past, I know the intensity they bring to the Leinster fixture. And that intensity applied up there in the Sportsground or in the RDS where a few of the lads would have cut their cloth as younger Leinster players. Again something to prove.

They came to the RDS that day on the back of a few big wins, in particular against Ulster and twice in the against Brive, so they were looking for blood.

That is something that you have to be conscious of, where the other team are at mentally and what they are likely to bring to the table. We had a focus that week to match fire with fire.

We set out to take them on up front in our carries, set-piece and breakdown, just as they would be planing to do to us.

I felt we executed that well at times, however we let them into the game through some easy tries and ill-discipline.

A huge positive from the game was our defensive effort in the last five minutes to hold out and get the win.

There was a sense of pride within the team to defend our line so well and a feeling of enjoyment in doing so. A big focus for us this year has been the brotherhood within the team and I believe this was crucial in securing the win in that exhilaration game.

After a busy Christmas schedule, it was great to regroup as a full squad at the start of this crucial European week. Another objective for this season is to finish top of our European group on maximum points.

This would ensure a home quarter-final and after that, ideally a home semi-final. This puts massive emphasis on these last two pool games.

Learning from last season, had the drawn game in Castres gone our way we would have had a home semi-final instead of a trip to France. Who knows what might have happened then. But it's important to learn from these mistakes as we now have an opportunity to write a new chapter.

As we welcome Glasgow on Sunday, we started our training week a day later. Tuesday morning we had the Ulster review done and parked by lunch and it was then time to turn the page.

Having already played Glasgow twice away from home, we can't wait to have a crack at them on our own turf. For the lads who played the European game in Scotstoun, they will have confidence and a hunger to back up a good win.

For those of us who played in the PRO14 defeat to them, revenge will be in the back our minds.

We have had a cohesive week's training and the coaches, as always, have delivered a clear game plan. From now until Sunday, its about getting ourselves in the right frame of mind for the challenge ahead.

There has certainly been a buzz around HQ the last few weeks and the boys cant wait to take the field on Sunday and express themselves in front of another packed RDS.

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