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Wednesday 20 June 2018

Mac hasn't gone away

Warrior McFadden has the stomach for battle

Fergus McFadden
Fergus McFadden

Fergus McFadden's competitive edge is sharper than a razor's edge.

The veteran wing has never been the biggest, the strongest, the fastest, the most skilful.

His calling card has always been his refusal to bow down or bow out of any contest as an individual or as part of the collective for Leinster and Ireland.

This year alone, James Lowe has been singed by The Blues on a three-year deal to become an Ireland international.

Jordan Larmour has popped, like a champagne cork, to move past Leinster's raft of Ireland wings like he did those Munster defenders on St Stephen's Day.

"The competition in that area is probably particularly strong in Leinster and Ireland - that along with the back-row and front-row is extremely competitive," reviewed McFadden.

"It just means whomever puts on the jersey, given the week it is, needs to step up or you might not see any game-time for a few weeks.

"It adds more incentive to those who get the opportunities to play."

McFadden has always thrived on competition, moving from hanging on at Leinster last season to hanging out in the Six Nations this season.

Patient

"I think I just had to remain patient," he said, about his return to prominence.

"I was looking at things that were completely out of my control, guys in my position who were getting opportunities, taking them and playing well.

"I was out for five months so I couldn't really do anything about that."

He has been written-off more times than a rusty bucket in a demolition derby.

Yet, here he is still scrapping for everything he gets in the game - a thorough professional.

"I'd like to think that resilience is probably one of my stronger qualities over my career," he said.

"Sometimes when you get knocked down. It's about how you react when you come back and I thought I did well on that front anyway for the last year."

How does he cope with all the buzz around the next 'great one' (Larmour) in his position pushed by the media?

"Sure, I've ignored you for years," he shoots, with that sharp wit for which he is renowned.

"If I didn't I wouldn't be in here talking to you. That's for sure."

McFadden is approaching the end of his 11th season and is not too proud to step back and learn from the new breed.

"It is important to take note of talents coming through, the likes of Jordan, his progression could be a brilliant one.

"For me, it is about trying to bring what I have brought to games before and to evolve as well. The game has changed over the past few years in different ways and you have to keep evolving with it or you get left behind.

"I would like to think someone like Jordan coming in would learn a little bit off me.

"But, I've certainly been learning off him with even his mentality, the way he attacks and does certain things."

The creep of years has triggered an interest in rugby's 'afterlife' which can be a distraction.

For now, he is dedicated to the pursuit of knock-out rugby in the PRO14 and Europe and a place on one of the wings.

"If you start to look elsewhere you are probably not going to get into the team because you have got to have blinkers on in this game," he issued.

It is this enduring quality to focus, to compete that means McFadden still has his 'skin in the game'.

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