Sunday 23 October 2016

McLaughlin: This could be the start of new dynasty

Kevin McLaughlin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE
Kevin McLaughlin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

Kevin McLaughlin made it to his final Leinster away game last week.

The former flanker was there in a motivational move made by coach Leo Cullen.

"I talked about how beating a team like Toulon can be the spark that creates a new chapter, a new dynasty for the club."

He should know. He was at the heartbeat of the first one.

No sooner was he made club captain this season than concussion reared its head to force his retirement.

"I suppose there's an element of guilt there in that I was made captain, I was put in a leadership position," he said.

For that and other reasons, McLaughlin has not yet left the Leinster building.

It has made the transition to 'real life' easier. He is slowly letting go.

"It was an emotional enough time for me, being my last ever away trip.

"I was extremely disappointed for the lads, because from a physical and effort point of view, they literally could not put more into the game."

Then, the old memory muscle kicked into his analytical mind.

"Just, we all know that if you don't execute on your plays, don't get your stuff right against a team like that, then you're not going to win," he stated.

"Two things end up losing us the game, really: our discipline and our maul defence.

"You can't give 17 penalties away and beat Toulon. It just won't happen."

The reset button has been pressed.

"The opportunity is still there this weekend.

"Toulon are coming to the Aviva. There's going to be close to 45,000 people there.

"No one expects us to win."

It is the kind of adversity that made Leinster what they once were.

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