Player Diary - Dave Kilcoyne
Spuds, veg and chicken at 9am is hard to get used to
So far, so good. Sunday was an important win and to get the bonus point was a big reward for us, but the real test comes tomorrow in their place.
We are pretty happy with last weekend. There were particular areas of the game that we focused on in the week's preparation leading up to the game and I think we managed to expose Perpignan in those areas. To see our plans transferred from the training pitch to game time is hugely rewarding.
But, despite the victory and the winning margin last week, we know we face a totally different side tomorrow.
We tried to limit the amount of broken ball that we allowed Perpignan to play with and I thought we did that well. They are a dangerous side from broken play and we nullified that to an extent. I know they had a bit of a run at us a couple of times in the first half, but great covering tackles from Johne Murphy and Sean Dougall prevented two tries. We know that only for those stops it would have been a very different game, so that was a huge plus.
I was happy enough with my own run out but I am fairly picky, I always want to play better. Making a mistake annoys me more than scoring a try makes me happy. But I think you need that in this game. Especially when you are facing into the back-to-back Heineken Cup weeks.
It's been well documented, but I don't think I'll ever get used to the early game times. I was up around 7.0am, had the breakfast at home and then went into the Clarion to meet up with the team.
In order to wake our bodies up we went though a move-and-flex exercise. It was something that Aled (Walters), our S&C coach, has introduced. It's not quite taken as far as yoga, it's just about getting your core and glutes operational. At that early hour, that can be tough. For the elder statesmen of the squad like Damien Varley, it is important to stretch the muscles.
After that it was out to the car park to run through a few units -- line-outs and scrums. We walked through a few moves, before the pre-match meal was served at 9.0am -- spuds, veg and chicken. I reckon I was just waking up rightly then!
By all accounts, and from what I've watched of them, Perpignan are a totally different side at home and you have to be careful not to feel complacent after a bonus-point win.
A win like Sunday's could leave teams in a vulnerable position heading to a place like the Stade Aime Giral, so we'll have to have our homework done. Also, certain frailties and gaps we spotted in them last week will surely not be there again this week.
But I was delighted to get my first Heineken Cup try, I really am getting a reputation for my lung-bursting runs from inside my own half to score! In all seriousness it was a good team try, a few of the pack came close to getting across the line and I was just the fortunate one that crept over from half a yard.
Overall, I was happy with my game. I came off around the 60-minute mark. I'm always keen to stay on, but that's the way the professional game is now. Once you get the hour in, the curly finger is likely to come your way.
But we cannot fall in love with ourselves after that performance either. There were plenty of things there for us to work on and improve ahead of tomorrow. Our defence will need to be tighter and we'll have to be better at the breakdown, but hopefully -- after the work we have done in the last few days -- we'll see a marked improvement there. There is no point arriving in Perpignan and not being able to back up the bonus-point win.
I know Lifeimi Mafi is due back from suspension so he will be gunning for us, trying to put one over on us. He will have a huge impact on them tomorrow and they'll definitely be improved by him being there.
Obviously, I wouldn't have played a whole lot with him as my first season in the team coincided with his last at Munster, but everyone always talks about the quality, physicality and aggression that he brings to the set-up.
Certainly, we'll miss Conor's influence this weekend, but I thought Cathal played really well for us when he came on last weekend. We came up through the academy together, so I know how eager he is for his chance and he is taking it now.
Duncan Casey is another guy that did well. Duncan wouldn't have been picked on the bench if he wasn't capable of playing the part. Rob spoke very highly of him after the game and his stats were impressive in the short cameo that he had.
He got through a huge amount of work and that's just what Duncan is about. He is a hugely strong competitor and his tackle and carry numbers are always well up there. He is a great athlete, I'm delighted for him and I'm sure it's the first of many good days.
You never want to talk too much about the team you are about to face, but it is even tougher when you have to meet them for the second time in six days. In general, I'd rather focus on ourselves, but if we rest on our laurels, thinking it will be easy to turn a Catalan team over at home, we are in for a rude awakening.
I imagine we are in for some experience. The closest I'd have experienced to the Aime Giral is when we played Clermont down in Montpellier. That's probably the most intimidating game I have ever played in. They are such loyal supporters and it's almost like they are baying for blood out there.
I'm expecting the same from the Perpignan fans. In Thomond Park we always talk about our 16th man. There is no doubt it does spur you on that bit extra, so we'll be expecting a 'friendly' welcome from the locals.
Hopefully, they don't give them too much to be shouting about.