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Saturday 18 November 2017

Luke Fitzgerald: Wonder stuff is required in Wembley

Satisfactory would be the word I would use to describe the result last weekend. The simple fact in the Heineken Cup is that you've got to win all your home games in the group stages to stand any chance of qualifying out of it and Saturday was definitely a good start. But that was all it was -- a start.

That the games come in groups of two means that you can really target them, and we're certainly looking to back up last week's performance with something similar this week, albeit with improved accuracy in certain areas.

The truth of it is that the most pleasing aspect was managing to get a bonus point and still feel we have so much more in us. We can't underperform in any area if we want to stand a chance of overturning Saracens in their backyard.

I think it's very important at times like these, when you've got a pretty good result, that you analyse the game in great depth to see if there are any areas where you feel like you can improve. It's also essential to get a good sense of whether or not the opposition were the architects of much of what befell them.

After watching the match I think that there is still an awful lot of room for improvement and I also felt that a high quality outfit like Racing will be really disappointed with their performance. Not to take anything away from our boys, because I thought at times we were clinical, but two of the tries were walkovers (the speed of the ball can affect this) quite close to the posts, which is unusual.

One came from a quick penalty where they were caught napping (we were guilty of this a few weeks ago against Edinburgh and we were extremely disappointed to let that try in). So, to reiterate, I think we were clinical with our opportunities at times but I think Racing-Metro 92 will be really disappointed with themselves and I'd expect a backlash in Paris when we play them again in the latter stages of the pool.

To squad news now, the really important stuff -- who rolled the dice this week? There are a few people walking the tightrope but there was only one roll and it was the second time for big Cian Healy or 'Church' as he likes to be known.

Poor old Church had one of those days, and in fairness to him he's a Clontarf man so he's a bit out. If he messes up the schedule then there's no recovery because he's a good 20 minutes away without traffic.

He rolled one of the harsher punishments, a monetary fine, to a chorus of cheering (I promise you this is not the only thing we do in Riverview; some training actually does go on!) Although a small matter of concern from my point of view is where will the money go?

It's a matter of great concern to me that the committee members, Ronan McCormack, Jonathan Sexton and Jamie Heaslip, get to look after the money! Ronnie is the only sensible one of the three in my opinion and I think everyone in the squad will be keeping a close eye on Sexton and Heaslip's spending habits in the weeks to come!



Exciting

On a more serious and exciting note, we're going to Wembley this week and hopefully it'll be a fantastic experience.

We spoke this week about it probably being the only time we'll ever get to play at the stadium in our careers and to make sure we do ourselves, the management and the supporters proud out on the pitch. There is no doubting the calibre of our opponents and they have danger at their disposal all across the park.

They were extremely unlucky not to get something out of the game in Clermont, a very difficult place to go and compete. One area where we feel we could still improve is our discipline, and with Derick Hougaard playing at 10, we can't afford to give him too many opportunities to kick points because he's extremely accurate.

In the backline they have wingers (David) Strettle and (Michael) Tagicakibau, two very dangerous runners, so it'll be extremely important that we shut down their space and not give them too many opportunities to get their hands on the ball. Given enough opportunity they will most definitely punish you.

So it's another exciting weekend, and we're all really looking forward to it. A fantastic opposing team and a spectacular venue. What more you could you ask for?

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