herald

Monday 25 September 2017

Shane Jennings: Time to settle Welsh score

Having achieved our goals with Leinster so far, we have a shot at redemption against our Celtic cousins

WHAT a weekend of rugby! Last Friday there were so many different possibilities as to who would be playing who in the quarter-finals this year.

By Sunday evening it had all unfolded, the quarter-finalists and who would be playing who.

Sitting in Kiely’s on Sunday evening after watching Leinster ‘A’ put in a great performance against Pontypridd in Donnybrook; we were all glued to the TV watching the Cardiff Blues and Edinburgh games as they developed.

Looking back on the last few months now, they have been fantastic. We came back from the World Cup, sat down as a group and set out some goals which we wanted to achieve. Thirteen weeks, 13 consecutive senior games and five B&I Cup games. It was a big challenge, but one we knew we could achieve with a lot of hard work and some serious determination.

Thankfully, we have gone unbeaten in all games during this period and everybody involved deserves credit for that. But we all know that all that hard work was just so we could give ourselves a shot at going for the title again. Now the serious work has to be done.

Difficult

The Montpellier game in the RDS last Saturday was a tough, physical battle played in pretty difficult conditions. We started well and the opening quarter went to plan; taking our opportunities and scoring some nice tries. The second 20 minutes of the first half were a different story though.

Montpellier got a lot of the ball and put us under some serious pressure at times. It was great to see our defence remain solid and not give away a try and we took great confidence from that as we regrouped at half-time. We came out in the second half focused, played well into a strong gale and Cian (Healy) showed great strength to finish off some good play.

Sunday evening arrived and I found myself in a strange position with no work on Monday morning! We weren’t due into camp in Limerick until 8pm on Monday and everybody in Leinster was taking a few days off to recharge the batteries.

This was bliss, as I could watch my beloved NFL games, guilt free. Every Sunday, myself and a close group of mates watch the two live games on Sky. I’m a big Steelers fan but unfortunately they were knocked out two weeks ago by Denver and Tim Tebow, of all people.

Sunday saw the conference championships (basically the semi-finals) between Baltimore and New England and the New York Giants and San Francisco. They were both excellent games, with New England and New York coming through to play each other in the Super Bowl in two weeks’ time.

Impress

Camp went really well and we completed four really good days of training. People were mad keen to impress and everybody was pushing each other hard, as everybody wants to be involved against Wales in the opener.

I’m rooming with James Coughlan from Munster as Leo Cullen, my usual roommate, had to drop out of camp due to his troublesome Achilles. It’s terrible timing for Leo, but it’s something that has been bothering him for quite some time now and we are all wishing him a speedy recovery.

Camp life is great, but it can be

tough being away from home and your loved ones for weeks at a time. I’m currently trying to finish off a business course which I started last year and should be finished by now.

Unfortunately, due to a broken arm sustained in May last year and going to the World Cup in the autumn, the course has had to take a back seat.

Course

This is the perfect opportunity for me to stick the head down and get it done. So, for now, I have to avoid our famous bagman, Rala, and his evening coffee chats and trade them in for a few hours of study over the next few weeks to try and complete the course.

It’s a hugely exciting time and everybody involved is looking forward to the new campaign and will be trying to right the ‘wrong’ which occurred last time we met Wales.

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