Wednesday 18 July 2018

This is a perfect test for both us and Munster

Player Diary: Fergus McFadden

Fergus McFadden, pictured here going through his kicking routine. Photo: Sportsfile
Fergus McFadden, pictured here going through his kicking routine. Photo: Sportsfile
Leo Cullen. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster's Jordan Larmour. Photo: Sportsfile

Last week was strange as it felt like the start of the season for a lot of us against Edinburgh. And yet it was Round 5 of the Guinness PRO14 but between the jigs and the reels it was a very different feel to the build-up to that game.

Between Lions tourists and some guys like myself returning from injury getting the first game under our belts, there was definitely a sense for a lot of us of the season really starting from here on in.

After a tough review from the loss to the Cheetahs in South Africa we were conscious to bounce back with a win in front of our home crowd in the RDS. It had also been two games away from home so you are always that little bit keener to get back to home comforts after a period of time away like that.

Friday-night games in the RDS are an ideal time for us to play and I think it also suits our supporters. There has always been that traditional Friday-night game in the old Donnybrook and then the 7.35pm kick off gives a chance to those not in Dublin to come up too. There's always a great buzz with a lot of the crowd kicking off their weekend with the game and thankfully we got a beautiful night for it last week.

The game itself was anything but beautiful! It was a frustrating one in terms of the level of performance but we were very happy to come away with four points. Edinburgh have already shown rapid improvements under Richard Cockerill. The physicality and intensity we brought to the game was right where it needed to be but we lacked accuracy in some areas which made for a stop-start game. We found ourselves dominating possession in the right parts of the field throughout the 80 minutes but then not converting some clear chances to come away with points.

It felt like we were pounding their line on both sides of half-time but to no avail and the lack of ball focus and poor set-piece ended up costing us on the scoreboard.

It was a game that could have gone either way with ten minutes to go as Dougie Fife was held up before our line for what was judged by Ian Davies to be obstruction. We managed to work our way back into their 22 where good kick pressure by Jordan Larmour resulted in what was the decisive score for Jamo to secure the game for us.

On reflection we were happy to win such a scrappy game but were disappointed to not come away with the bonus point. Collectively that performance was tough viewing as there are so many work-ons for us this week.

But like I said earlier it was never going to be perfect with so many players coming back into the side after not playing for four to seven weeks but we aren't looking for excuses. It should have been better.

Personally, it was great to get back out there with the boys and get 80 minutes under my belt. It may be only October but this next four to six games will be a defining time for our Leinster season. We will need as many players fit as possible competing for places, making it competitive and giving Leo selection headaches so the club is in the best place possible to win all of these games.

Munster at home in the Aviva is often a springboard for either side going forward and we are very aware of how important it is to keep gathering momentum as a group and to keep winning.

Monday and Tuesday were perfect days for us to thoroughly go through what needs to be improved on going into such a huge challenge this weekend against Munster who had a good win against Cardiff.

Playing them in the PRO14 is the best test we could give ourselves before going into our first two pool games in Europe. I was really impressed by them against Cardiff and I know they will look at this game the same as us; great to help them build for Castres.

The rivalry between blue and red runs deep between the two provinces and the fixture is steeped in history. We've had a really good week training and every squad member wants to be involved. It's a huge game for the club but it's an even bigger block through this October period. Hopefully your support will be the advantage for us with that sea of blue in Lansdowne Road on Saturday afternoon.

Irish Independent

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