Sunday 18 August 2019

The Insider: We have to keep winning after a brilliant month

Nobody wants to linger on a loss during the November break so hopefully we have one more victory in us

Fergus McFadden hopes to begin the international break on the back of victory tonight. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Fergus McFadden hopes to begin the international break on the back of victory tonight. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Fergus McFadden - Player Diary

The month of October has been good to us with four wins out of four in what was a hugely challenging block of fixtures with two massive Guinness PRO14 interpros and of course the first two rounds of the Champions Cup.

We obviously stumbled in South Africa in that game against the Cheetahs but we got back on track against Edinburgh and then our momentum really started building after a big win for the club against Munster in the Aviva.

That fixture is more than just points in the PRO14 for both sets of players and supporters as the rivalry runs deep, so it was important to put in a big performance leading into our first two fixtures in Europe.

When Montpellier arrived to the RDS the following week our tails were up and I felt we played with real confidence against a star-studded French outfit. They were missing Aaron Cruden at ten but they had star quality everywhere else and it was a huge plus to get a performance and the bonus point in front of a good RDS atmosphere.

Glasgow posed a much different challenge but equally as difficult when we travelled to play them in Scotston.

That game was very satisfying for us as a group. We have been working on the small details in training over the past few months and to see these work-ons in defence and attack coming to fruition in big games is rewarding.

Fergus McFadden colliding with Leonardo Sarto of Glasgow Warriors. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Fergus McFadden colliding with Leonardo Sarto of Glasgow Warriors. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Glasgow is one of the toughest places to go and get a win so to come away with a try bonus point was ideal.

Personally, I was delighted to get back in the starting line-up for that Champions Cup after a few niggles at the beginning of the season. The body is feeling fresh and fit at the minute so it's about doing the little things in and around training to keep those injury issues at bay.

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People don't realise the time set aside and the importance of recovery now in the game. Taking care of yourself when you're not in the gym or on the pitch is such a huge part of being a good professional, by doing the extra things to get your body right particularly with the level of collisions at an all-time high.

Now that we are back in the PRO14 it gives us time to digest some learnings we can take going towards the crucial back-to-back fixtures against Exeter in December.

Exeter are one of the most impressive teams around at the moment, they have built a very strong culture over the past five seasons which was highlighted last May where they won the Aviva Premiership.

For the moment we will get back to business with some tough fixtures in the PRO14 but it's satisfying to know that with 10 points from 10 so far in Europe our destiny is in our hands.

Last weekend's win up in Kingspan Stadium was arguably the most satisfying of all over the past four weeks.

It's been a graveyard for us the past four seasons where we have struggled to come away with much besides losing bonus points.

Losing up there last year was a real low point for the group in a game where we got physically dominated.

Thankfully we got our own back in what was a convincing win up there last Saturday.

Ulster don't get beaten in Belfast very often so to go up to what has been a fortress for them and to get four points was massive and now puts us ahead of them in our table.

Another big game in Glasgow tonight presents another grudge match after travelling there and winning only two weeks ago. We know they will still be hurting from that loss.

With so many of our squad gone (18) into Irish camp this November period always stretches us and gives some younger players an opportunity to step up.

The strength in depth hasn't been this strong in a long time in my opinion and it's encouraging to see the level of talent stepping up from the academy.

Our training has been good this week and if we continue to progress from our October block I've no doubt we will come away with the win.

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