Thursday 24 May 2018

Trip to Ulster is the ideal return tie for us in PRO14 - Luke McGrath

Competition is at all-time high at the moment and that's down to getting so many positive results of late

Luke McGrath looks forward to return to PR014 action against Ulster. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Luke McGrath looks forward to return to PR014 action against Ulster. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Luke McGrath - Player Diary

Usually the Monday of match week is isn't as focused on recovery but it's fair to say it took many recovery protocols to get over the physicality of the Montpellier match.

They were big men and it was a hugely physical game, so that was the focus last Monday as we looked towards Glasgow - making sure we were as fresh as possible for when we did take to the field in good shape last weekend.

I had played in Glasgow four times previously and was yet to come away with a win so I knew the challenge that lay ahead. Nothing would come easy and if anything that helped us focus even more.

Monday was also a strange day as ex-Hurricane Ophelia hit Dublin about the same time that we were set to train outside.

When you see the devastation from other parts of the country we were very lucky and your heart goes out to those affected and of course to those who had lost lives.

We moved our outdoor training indoors. As it happened it was a great session because we were able to get a lot of detail done on our opposition in the analysis rooms.

Dave Rennie. Photo: Getty Images
Dave Rennie. Photo: Getty Images

At the time it was an inconvenience but looking back on the week now I thought this was the important detail that made a difference.

Scotstoun - where Glasgow play - is a 4G pitch so we knew different challenges lay ahead.

From talking to lads in and around the place, it seems that the backs enjoy these harder surfaces more than the forwards.

I am still unsure if I would like to play on them every week but I do enjoy them and I feel you can get more traction under foot. To prepare for the 4G, we also trained in Donnybrook for most of the week.

Luke McGrath in action against Montpellier. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Luke McGrath in action against Montpellier. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Glasgow are going well this year and were unbeaten until Exeter got the better of them the weekend before.

They had been very strong defensively, were unbeaten at home and had been scoring a wide range of tries. They play a high tempo and physical style of rugby that new coach Dave Rennie has brought from the Chiefs. They also have a wealth of experience with many Scottish internationals.

As if the challenge of facing this side wasn't enough we also had the early 1pm kick off. This is far from ideal for players as it forces you to eat a pre-match meal at 9am. But again I feel having played at 1pm the week before against Montpellier had us attuned.

The weather played a part in the match as the ball was wet for the first half, but thankfully it cleared up for the second half and we could play a more attacking game. Our pack were immense and gave us a great platform to build from.

To come away with five points was brilliant and yet they are not far from our thoughts as we are returning to Scotstoun in a couple of weeks for our PRO14 fixture. We know that we will have to put in an even better performance as Glasgow will look to atone for the loss.

A huge amount of hard work and detail has gone into the past two European weeks by the whole squad. Not only the 23 playing but also the extended squad.

Competition for places is at an all-time high. A mention too to the British & Irish Cup squad, who managed to beat Doncaster away and Cardiff Blues respectively, with bonus-point wins.

It has been a positive couple of weeks for the club in both competitions but we all know that it is only the beginning.

We have two games of PRO14 rugby left before the break. No better way to return to the PRO14 than with an interpro against Ulster.

The interpros are always memorable games as the intensity, pace and focus go up a level and it will be the same tomorrow. Ulster have been in great form in the PRO14, winning all of their home games and only losing narrowly away to Zebre. They are playing great attacking rugby so we must get our defence right if we want to win.

The added importance is that they are in our conference, just ahead of us, so we have an extra incentive of moving ahead of them if we win. The Kingspan is a difficult place to get a result but we have trained hard all week and are looking forward to putting in a good performance.

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport