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Sunday 4 December 2016

Taste of Boks for McGrath

Ulster trip to give loosehead insight into South Africa tour

Jack McGrath has been short-listed for the IRUPA Player's Player of the Year award Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Jack McGrath has been short-listed for the IRUPA Player's Player of the Year award Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Jack McGrath expects a minor version of what Ireland will combat in South Africa when Leinster take the show on the road to Ulster next Saturday.

A thread of South African class runs through the northern province courtesy of Springboks Ruan Pienaar and Franco van der Merwe.

The former controls the back division; the latter the lineout.

Then, there is the anchorman Wiehahn Herbst to lock down the scrum.

There is a very South African flavour to Ulster. There are undeniable similarities.

"You're dead right," said McGrath.

"The crowd let you know that you're there.

"It's a great place to go. It's like something you'd never experience anywhere else. They're a pretty tough side.

"We're just looking forward to getting up there and getting the job done."

Leinster will look to do what Connacht couldn't in Ravenhill.

They will look to confirm their presence at the head of the PRO12 by recouping four points, while doing damage to Ulster's pursuit of a top-four finish.

"I think Ulster, their scrums and their maul are pretty dangerous," he noted.

"The guys they have coming back, the likes of Tommy Bowe and Jared (Payne) - he'd been kind of struggling with injury after the Six Nations.

"They're dangerous in all areas, and they've good young guys in the centre as well, with (Stuart) Olding and (Stuart) McCloskey. They're dangerous all over the park, and especially at home.

"There are a few things that we'll probably hone into from Monday onwards. But, we just know now that we're going to have to be switched on."

Leinster have gotten to this point in the season without ever reaching fifth gear.

The fear is that they simply won't find it this season just as the wonder story that is Connacht continues and the holders Glasgow are cranking up the pressure.

Short-listed for the IRUPA Player's Player of the Year, McGrath has been an exception all season long in blue and green.

He has worked too hard for too long to end the season without a medal dangling from his neck.

"It's something we missed last season and we're focusing on Ulster," he said.

"It's imperative that we go up there and pull out a performance because we went up there and we were taught a lesson last year.

"Now that we're focusing on one competition, it will focus the mind of the whole squad."

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