Fans and family made Kingsholm feel just like home for us
With a spot in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals clinched and being named in the extended Ireland squad, it hasn't turned out to be too bad of a week!
After reaching the last four last year, we were desperate to get back involved in knockout rugby again, so to clinch it with one game to spare -- especially after losing to Edinburgh -- is pretty pleasing.
Reaching the last eight was one of our targets from the start, but now we need to drive it on for another weekend and get the win against Edinburgh. We need a good win against them if we are to have any hope of a home quarter-final, so we'll be going out all guns blazing.
In all reality, we are relying on a few of the other group leaders taking their eye off the ball if we are to get a Thomond Park tie in the last eight, but we can't control that. We need to focus on our own performance, and make sure that we are next in line if one of them slips up.
Either way, it would be nice to have another good home performance in front of our fans in the bag before we face into the knockout stages.
And what a bunch of supporters we have -- the whole day in Gloucester was incredible. My dad and six or seven of my uncles all made the trip over to Kingsholm, so after the game it was great to be able to go around to the fans and say hello.
When we walked around afterwards, the Kilcoyne clan had commandeered the space along the halfway line, so when I went over I nearly got pulled into the crowd by them. They nearly tore the head off me, but it was great to share the moment with them.
It was just an incredible turnout all round and it is a real credit to our fans. When you see the home players saying what an atmosphere it was, you realise how good we have it. It gives you are real sense of privilege, to play in front of those fans away from home. That's what we are playing for. We must be the best-supported team in the world; it was like a home game over there.
All said, it was a great result and a good performance considering the team we were playing. Kingsholm is a very tough place to go, but the whole team really stood up and played well.
There definitely was a reaction from Gloucester following everything that has gone on for them in the last few weeks. Even in the warm-up we could sense they meant business. They came out and ran straight through our warm-up and they got the Kingsholm crowd going.
You could tell they were hungry for the fight. They came out hard in the early stages, really hung on in there and fought hard until the end as we knew they would. They were really hurting after the previous week. Seeing former players and coaches calling them out to battle must have galled them, and they really put it up to us.
And we had plenty of positives to take from the game apart from the result. Our backs came in for a lot of criticism the week before, but they really stood up well against Gloucester again. They will be key against an Edinburgh side who were very impressive again against Perpignan.
The pack were fairly solid in England last week: the set-piece, scrum, line-out and maul all operated well, but we are going to need an all-round good performance to pick up a fifth win of the pool. We can't focus on what has gone before, this is all about putting in a performance for ourselves and our supporters on Sunday.
It was a great boost to have Simon Zebo and Conor Murray back last weekend too; that competition for places really will drive the squad on. Zeebs only got a few minutes on the pitch but we really saw what he is all about in that short appearance. He is going to be a huge player for us for the rest of the season.
And it was amazing to see Conor slot back in again so easily. He kept Gloucester on the back foot and kept the ball in front of us. We put so much work into our set-piece plays, when you have a scrum-half like Conor keeping things ticking nicely, it is a pleasure to play behind it.
Personally, I was happy overall, but as a unit we worked well, and huge credit has to go to the back five, who have been massive for us all season.
If we can replicate that effort on Sunday, we should be right in there with a chance of the win.
Against Edinburgh, I don't think it is a case of revenge at all, it's just up to us to go out and show what we are capable of on the big stage. We really let ourselves down in Murrayfield and it didn't look good for our Heineken Cup aspirations at that stage, so we are all determined to put that a small bit right on Sunday.
After the Edinburgh game there is an Ireland Wolfhounds game, but it's straight into the Six Nations after that. Everyone is hoping to be included, so hopefully a few more good performances will serve me well.
It was great to be involved in the extended squad over the Christmas and I'm delighted to be named in the extended squad again. Hopefully the good result at the weekend is the start of a good year ahead.