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Thursday 8 December 2016

Jack refusing to look back

Jack McGrath is excited to be back with Leinster
Jack McGrath is excited to be back with Leinster

Jack McGrath had the look of a man who had seen, heard and felt enough about the World Cup.

Initially, the usually under-stated loose-head prop batted away all questions concerning the fallout from last month.

"It's back to business," he stated. "The World Cup is forgotten about now. We're into Leinster mode."

Is it really that simple to park the World Cup?

"It has to be," came the reply.

What about the mental pain? Does it linger?

"It does yeah. But, you have to forget about it. It's a different environment, different coaches, different team. You have to get straight back into it and learn your plays."

And still.

The hard-boiled stance on RWC softened just enough for McGrath to reveal the personal positives.

"I took a lot of confidence from my own performances," he said.

The highlights were his first World Cup start against Canada, the record-breaking crowd against Romania, the incredible atmosphere and win against France in Cardiff.

"It was as if we were playing in the Aviva every week," he recalled.

"We were lucky enough to play in Cardiff three times. That was like nothing I've ever experienced."

The condensed nature of the club season means "you can't get too hung up on it" and the list of names coming straight at Leinster demands instant respect and immediate focus.

Exciting

Or guess what? The three-time European champions could be out of the Champions Cup before you can say 'World Cup quarter-final'.

"It's an exciting time with the players we have back. The quality is there."

It wasn't that long ago the bedded-in international was where Leinster's newbies were for the first five rounds of the PRO12.

"I remember when I was there, it was a good chance to stake your claim, trying to impress the coaches. I was really impressed. It was great to see some of the young lads stepping up to win three of the five games which is ideal."

The timely return of a horde of internationals at Treviso and their in-tune understanding of the new system brought five more points and a welcome position of fourth on the ladder.

"We're just looking for consistency," he said.

"It is different to last year with so many changes in the backroom staff and a few new faces in the changing-room," he added.

The Scarlets have made a clean sweep of their first half-dozen matches in the PRO12 to lead the league from the Irish quartet of Connacht, Munster, Leinster and Ulster, in that order.

The step down from international level to club rugby doesn't get any easier in this case.

If selected, McGrath will probably have to lock horns with Wales' first choice tight-head Samson Lee.

"He is a rock for Scarlets and Wales," he nodded.

"He is their out-and-out number one tight-head.

"It's going to be a good challenge to go up against him this weekend.

"He is a tough customer. He did really well to get back from his Achilles injury, a really quick turnaround by anyone's standards."

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