Saturday 24 August 2019

We know we need to improve, insists Tracy

James Tracy. Photo: Sportsfile
James Tracy. Photo: Sportsfile

Ryan Corry

This weekend's Guinness PRO14 clash at the RDS Arena between Leinster Rugby and Benetton Rugby takes on an odd and unfamiliar disguise.

To many, it would seem that, having already secured a home semi-final as winners of Conference B, this game is purely a run-around for the fringe players and maybe a returning injured party.

However, having suffered defeat in the same fixture last season, and just about overcoming Ulster last Saturday in the Champions Cup, Leinster need to make a statement.

Head Coach Leo Cullen alluded to the fact that he would be making changes in his post-match press conference, in part due to the bruising nature of the Champions Cup quarter-final.

Hooker James Tracy reiterates the importance of the squad after battles such as the one last weekend.

"There's been a few really tough battles but it was definitely up there. I felt like I'd played a full game and I played 20-something minutes," he says.

"That seven minute period at the end where we had a two-and-a-half-minute D-set and then five minutes with the ball. I was deliriously tired, I didn't really know what was going on when we kicked it out. Happy to get it done and it made it that little bit sweeter coming back. We know how hungry they (Benetton) are going to be for this so if we take our eye off anything for a second, that's when you start to slip. We need to gather a bit of momentum and keep everything going.

"We lost this fixture last year and we know how good they are. They're sitting third in the conference and they need this win to secure themselves because there's three or four there that are nip and tuck."

International Rugby Newsletter

Rugby insights and commentary from our renowned journalists like Neil Francis, Will Slattery, Alan Quinlan & Cian Tracey.

While Benetton and the RDS Arena take priority this weekend, few could blame Tracy and his team-mates for casting an eye a couple of weeks ahead to bigger days.

Unknown Toulouse await in the European semi-final while the PRO14 semi-final against, as yet, unknown opposition is also around the corner.

Despite being holders in both competitions, the same desire to claim silverware is there, and possibly even greater for this "ambitious group".

"I remember Johnny (Sexton) quoting Tom Brady when we won about how his favourite Super Bowl was the next one. It wasn't the one that's just gone. It kind of resonated with me that they're not happy just winning one," Tracy adds.

"It's leaving a legacy of how many you can win. That's the mindset, but again, it comes down to that we haven't won anything yet. We're in two semi-finals but you don't win anything for being in a semi-final, you don't win anything unless you win the final.

"We're well aware of that, we didn't perform, we weren't allowed to, but we didn't perform well enough the last day and we know we need to improve."

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: The 'hell' of World Cup training camp, Ireland's half-back dilemma and All Blacks uncertainty

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport