Friday 15 December 2017

Fitzgerald: It's time to put matters right

Joke is on me after being late again for training, but rest assured we'll be deadly serious about making amends for poor form against Munster

So, I never told you what happens if you're late for a second time in the piece I did two weeks ago. And I'd hoped that I would never have to tell you about it from first hand experience.

The punishment committee - made up of Jonathan Sexton, Jamie Heaslip and Ronan McCormack - thought that on your second offence it would be amusing for the squad to watch the perpetrator roll a big cardboard dice with six different punishments on each face, obviously with the person who committed the crime having to perform whatever task the dice commands him to do.

Fortunately for me I got one of the less harsh punishments.

Next week I have to wear my number 1's to and from training for the entire week. For those of you who wear a suit everyday this might seem ridiculously easy and straightforward but for someone (such as a professional rugby player) who never has to wear a suit, an absolute pain in the a**.

Plus, you look like an absolute plonker in front of the whole team!

In comparison to the other punishments I still feel like this was a small victory, although now is not the time to go through them, I'm sure there will be a few more dice-rollers amongst the squad before the end of the season. So don't worry, I'll keep you informed as to how they get on!


Things like this are important for squad morale especially after another disappointing result for us on the weekend.

We had high hopes last Friday and it would have been an ideal way to get prepared for what is going to be another massive occasion tomorrow night against Munster.

We got off to another good start in the game, which seems to be a curse for us at the moment, and we let them off the hook with some poor defending and, what was even more disappointing, poor intensity at times.

Teams like Edinburgh, with the calibre of players that they have, and with home advantage, were never going to allow us to get away with that, and they duly punished us. The only real positive was that no one got injured, which might seem harsh but I can assure you the squad is its own worse critic.

There was a real feeling amongst the players that we let Joe (Schmidt) and the management down.


But, even worse, we let ourselves down. Again the fundamentals of the game let us down and its something that we need to get right, and get right fast.

This weekend's game is one of the most unforgiving rugby environments in the world bar none, and also one of rugby's biggest rivalries.

What makes these affairs so intense is that both sets of players are not only competing for places on a national front, but both sets of players are actually very friendly off the pitch. Most of the players have either played together in under-age teams or on senior teams and it makes the rivalry extremely intense.

Munster will want revenge for the semi-final loss last year, no matter what they say in the papers.

They are exactly like us in many ways, an extremely competitive bunch of players and an extremely ambitious group of players and they are the form team in the Magners League at the moment, without a doubt.

So the challenge is huge, but there would be no better way for the team to gain some confidence than by putting in a good performance on the weekend. They have a lot of threats in all areas of the pitch, but we can't lose sight of our strengths either.

So while it's important to be wary of the opposition, it's also very important to have confidence in our own abilities and strengths and we'll have to try and impose our will on them from the very start of the game.

So what better way to finish up than by using an old Irish saying that is extremely applicable, for an all Irish day and a massive physical encounter: "Is minic a bhris béal duine a shrón", as the time for talking is now, surely over...

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