Thursday 22 March 2018

The standards have to improve a lot this week, says McGrath

Leinster’s Luke McGrath during training in UCD. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Leinster’s Luke McGrath during training in UCD. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Luke McGrath is expecting a big response from Leinster tomorrow when they look to bounce back from last week's disappointing performance against the Scarlets.

For the second week running Leinster will face Welsh opposition, this time the Dragons, and McGrath admitted that the players needed to take responsibility for the defeat.

With the international players only back in training yesterday, the game at the RDS provides another chance for the younger players to stake their claim.

"As a collective, it was very disappointing," McGrath said.

"We spoke about how Scarlets have been in good form, and the start was so important for us, especially away from home - as it always is.

"Defensively we were very poor at the weekend for our standard. It's just a case of the meetings today, being harsh on ourselves, and we can only get better from this.


"But it's almost all focus now on this week. We can't dwell on the past too much. It was a poor performance, and we weren't happy with it. We need to pick up our standards as a collective. Everyone needs to do it individually, but also as a collective.

"I think that obviously a lot of our squad are away on international duty, but that's just a massive chance for us young guys.

"We see it as an opportunity, and it was a really good performance over in Zebre, and we let it slip massively from that performance.

"For our levels, it was very, very disappointing, and it's going to have to be much, much better this week if we want to beat Dragons."

McGrath was rewarded for his good form with his first international cap against Canada three months ago and he is eager to build on that again.

There has been plenty of focus on Leinster's defence in training this week as McGrath has warned that if it isn't better than it was last week then they will be facing the prospect of a second defeat on the bounce.

"Our defence is going to have to be much better," the scrum-half insisted.

"That's for a start. We were slipping off one-on-one tackles, even though our system was good, we were just slipping off tackles that you'd make nine times out of 10.

"That was the one real disappointment, but our mindset has to be massive. Over the last couple of years with the Dragons, in 2015 we lost twice to them, and then last year we lost over in Rodney Parade.

"They are a team that seem to beat us the last couple of years, so it's a massive test. One thing was discipline, just letting them have 'easy outs', then too many cards and stuff like that. It's going to have to be a major focus for us."

Leinster had a man sent off (Barry Daly) and another sin-binned (Mike McCarthy) against the Scarlets but McGrath doesn't believe that discipline is a problem within the squad.

"That is a major focus for us every week," he maintained.

"I don't think in the past it has been that much of an issue for us, but as I say, we're just giving too many silly penalties away.

"It's almost giving them 'easy outs' in their half, and they get territory, and it leads to points for them. Even the discipline shown in the last game against Australia, even in that Ireland game, their discipline was brilliant.

"You could see they got Australia to work very hard for them. We've got to look at that as a focus for us - and be better at it."

Irish Independent

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