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Thursday 8 December 2016

McGrath needs to revive sniper's instinct back in France

Luke McGrath. Pic: Sportsfile
Luke McGrath. Pic: Sportsfile

Luke McGrath has played in France before.

He was the captain and arrowhead for the Ireland Schools when they clipped England's wings in the U18 European Championship final in Tarbes back in April 2011.

This was no ordinary England Age Grade collective as Jack Nowell, Anthony Watson, Sam Hill, Henry Slade, Dom Barrow, David Sisi and Jak Clifford were all part of the 17-8 downfall.

The Irish were also stocked with McGrath leading Robbie Henshaw, Chris Farrell, Stuart Olding, Rory Scholes, the Byrne brothers, Bryan and Edward and Dan Leavy in a stellar cast.

The fact is McGrath struggled to recall the venue of a game in which the scrum-half struck four penalties and was the main difference in capturing the title.

A lot has happened since the boy became a man. What took place then will have absolutely no bearing on what will happen in Montpellier, a club which yesterday registered Tomás O'Leary as its additional player for the round two match.

Back then, McGrath came and conquered with a swashbuckling swagger underpinned by his Danny Care-like eye for a gap and his drive into it.

Fast forward five years and McGrath's commitment to concentrate on his service has been for the greater good of those outside him.

There was a moment against Castres when the 18-year-old McGrath would have simply went for it.

He broke on the blindside of a scrum in the 53rd minute and never noticed the hole right in front of him, putting the ball into the hands of the covered Joey Carbery.

"Yeah, it was tough to watch that on the video review. Nine times out of ten I score that," he said. "It (breaking) isn't something I would say I went away from.

"It just went into my mind to get it into the number ten's hands as quick as possible.

"It's probably something I need to go back to or keep working on.

"There was a try or two there for me at the weekend if I had just looked up because I back my running ability.

"I need to be aware of that, but not force it."

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