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Sunday 25 September 2016

Blues aim to bounce back in style

Cullen's men need to get fired up for rest of season

Jack McGrath (SPORTSFILE)
Jack McGrath (SPORTSFILE)

Leinster and Ireland prop Jack McGrath was left almost as desolate from the loss to Ulster last week as he was from that to England in this year's Six Nations.

"Yeah, like there are a lot of variables, but, at the moment, they're two pretty disappointing games that spring to mind.

"Listen, they're different competitions," he added. "At the weekend, it was massively disappointing because you're playing against your mates.

"You want to beat them and have a bit of craic afterwards. But with that result, and how we played, it's pretty disappointing."

Leinster are nowhere near where they need to be, in terms of performance standards.

"You could look at it that we just weren't good enough on the day," he said.

"We are getting back to where we were but, it's a bit of a slip up for us, and especially at this stage of the season.

"All credit to Ulster, they put us under pressure and made it uncomfortable for us.

"It was between them playing well and us doing ourselves no favours that got them the result."

The controllables come under the Leinster umbrella of what they can do better.

"I think probably a bit of our breakdown, dropping the ball in key areas, a few bits like that.

"Overall, I think we probably let ourselves down. We knew we had to go up 100 per cent against those guys and we were probably off.

"What more can I say? It was disappointing and we probably have to wear it.

"It's something you have to take into the next game."

McGrath would not concede that Ulster's need to make the Top-4 was greater than Leinster's need to stay in first place.

"I don't think so, no. I think going to play a team like Ulster, no one should need it more than the other team.

"We always go out to win. We don't go out to under-perform and, on the day, sometimes things go against you and you make mistakes.

"When they're those type of games they can be pretty gaping mistakes.

"It's just kind of frustrating from all aspects."

The deep depression of Inter-provincial defeat, a "hiding," according to Stephen Ferris, an "embarrassment," according to Shane Horgan, must turn to anger at some point.

"It's probably bubbling under and then you start honing it on Thursday and Friday and into the game on Saturday because you can't be using all your anger up early in the week.

"It needs to kind of be simmering for you, and that disappointment, for you to be able to use that as drive.

"The season isn't over for us now. We've a chance to make a home semi-final and that's a positive outlook we have to take from it.

"It will be great to get back to the RDS and try to do that."

The problem is Benetton Treviso will not provide any reasonable measure of Leinster's state of mind.

It is time for Leo Cullen to decide what his best 15 is and stick with it for, potentially, the last three matches of the season.

"You can't have the same 15 every week or guys will break down so you have to have combinations and that's what squads are for.

Confidence

"It's probably for the next week and, hopefully, the week after that we're going to have to put out our best team to get our continuity and confidence back," stated McGrath.

The heavy load of hurt should be just about easing today ahead of the IRUPA Awards ceremony tonight for which McGrath has been nominated with Rory Best, Robbie Henshaw and CJ Stander for Players' Player of the Year.

In terms of Ireland, McGrath has already played 13 times this season, ten from the start, with three more gruelling outings to come in South Africa.

The doubts over the availability of Cian Healy make McGrath an unbackable favourite to start all three tests in June.

That is the furthest thing from his mind right now.

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