Monday 20 November 2017

Marsh's push in through the out' door

Leinster up-and-coming No 10 aims to recover after Wasps 'shock to system'

Out-half Marsh speaks to the media at Belfield this week Photo: Sportsfile
Out-half Marsh speaks to the media at Belfield this week Photo: Sportsfile

If ever there was a baby-faced assassin in blue, then it has to be Cathal Marsh.

The out-half is the least likely looking professional rugby player on the Leinster roster.

It is difficult to see, in the mind's eye, the 24-year-old telling Seán O'Brien or Jamie Heaslip where to go or what to do.

Still, that is the job description of every out-half, to take control of the ball and those large men moving around him.

He is no Jonathan Sexton when it comes to getting his message across.

"I guess we are all different. I would be a bit more chilled than Johnny," said Marsh.

"You need to be able to boss people around, get them into the right position.

"If they are not, if people are in the wrong positions in a pod or a shape on a Tuesday or whatever, they are going to be in the wrong place on a Saturday.

"I think you do have to be assertive," he stated.

The argument over the introduction of players on the cusp of any first team is a delicate one.

For instance, there have been loud calls for Garry Ringrose and Stuart McCloskey to be thrown in for Ireland in the Six Nations.

Back at Leinster, Marsh has shown definite progress this season from life in the British & Irish Cup to that in the PRO12 League where he has been able to work with the same backs coach Girvan Dempsey to ease the transition.

The ex-St Michael's College out-half has added nine caps, six as a starter, to the single one procured last season.

The trouble with every assassin is that there is always someone after them too.

Marsh found this out when getting 70 minutes against Wasps in the Champions Cup.

"Yeah, it was definitely a bit of a shock to the system," he acknowledged.

"I hadn't played a huge amount, I'd played a few 'A' games in the weeks leading up to it.

"To go from that level to suddenly coming on against Wasps, I think their defence was just a complete step-up.

"I found it a lot tougher to find space, like when we were left behind, just chasing the game.

"I think coming out of the game, you learn a lot about things you should have done.

"We had a review process. I had a meeting with some of the boys. We looked at the tape.

"It was definitely tough the days after but you have to just park it.

"You have got to learn from it and, hopefully, if I get an opportunity again I will be able to play better."

There was no better place to recover confidence than at home to Zebre last Friday night.

It was a typical carve up of the Italian carcass with eight tries from eight different players as Leinster ran riot.

"It was very enjoyable. I thought we were able to create some good things and there was obviously a bit more space than in the games we have been playing recently," he said.

At the lower level, Marsh was able to pull the strings and put his passing game in motion.

"I think there were eight different try scorers, Cian Kelleher and Adam (Byrne) getting their first tries was great as well.

"I thought we were pretty relentless, kept the tempo up even when we had the bonus point at half-time.

"We kept going in the second-half, scored four more tries.

"That's the way the coaches want us to be. I thought we executed very well."

The November internationals and the Six Nations provide the window which Marsh has to step through to maintain his push to be the automatic back-up to Jonathan Sexton next season.

The current injury to Ross Byrne has cleared the way for him to build on what he has done.

With games have come confidence and game maturity.

"I would have always been confident in my ability," he offered.

"Not playing for a couple of years obviously was a sort of a dent in the confidence, but even throughout those years, I always felt that I was good enough to play at this level."

Leinster will travel to Cardiff Blues to make a charge at earning their eleventh win from the fourteenth round of the PRO12 tomorrow afternoon.

"It is similar to that World Cup period when there were six games when those boys were away.

"The younger boys really enjoy coming in and being a part of the squad and staking their claim for the future."

It takes time to grow into a role. It doesn't happen overnight.

Marsh looked over-burdened in The Champions Cup. It was once the same in the PRO12.

"I think we are probably a bit more confident now, a bit more assertive," he shared.

"I wouldn't have played a lot of games at all before the World Cup so you might be a bit tentative with the older boys.

"But, at this stage after playing with the lads, you are eminently more assertive, especially as an out-half you tend to boss the lads about a bit more.

"That's the way you have to be."

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