herald

Friday 14 December 2018

McGrath and Ruddock look to book in for Bilbao trip

Luke McGrath
Luke McGrath

Luke McGrath and Rhys Ruddock are on course to make it onto the plane for the Champions Cup final.

Scrum-half McGrath was in the middle of a skills session in the Leinster indoor facility just as scrum-coach John Fogarty also shared a positive update on the state of Ruddock's hamstring.

Centre Robbie Henshaw (shoulder) and number eight Jack Conan (knee) also reported no issues on return from their injuries.

It was confirmed that Seán O'Brien will take no further part in the season.

There is confidence the 31 year-old will make it back for pre-season at the start of July.

RETURN: Rhys Ruddock. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
RETURN: Rhys Ruddock. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

The state of Fergus McFadden's hamstring was not so clear.

The wing received a blow in the act of scoring Leinster's third try against the Scarlets and will not make it for the final game of the PRO14 League against Connacht at the Sportsground on Saturday (KO 3.05, Live TG4).

Leinster will have the luxury of a bye week the following week as long as they can hold onto their number one seed on Conference B.

From now to the Champions Cup final, the coaches will have to manage the preparation, presuming few, if any, of the first fifteen will be asked to turn out in Galway.

It is easy, even natural, to skip ahead to Bilbao and what Racing 92 will bring at them.

"When you get into a final - we said it after the match - it doesn't really matter," said Fogarty.

"We are going to focus on making sure that we are in the right head space, mentally we're in the right place, that we are going to improve our game, get more out of our performance."

The French club have the resources and the spark to set fire to Leinster's plans for a fourth European crown.

"With Racing, you look at them and you go, 'Jesus, you've got superstars coming off the bench.'

"You see the power. You see defensively how they stop Munster and apply pressure.

"It's going to be a huge battle," stated Fogarty.

The appetite to make up for past failures burns deep inside the Leinster organisation.

Mental approach

"In the last couple of years, we've come undone," he added. We had to think about how our mental approach was.

"Did we get that right? Did we peak too early at times?

"Last year, we felt we peaked a little too early and petered out towards the end of the season.

"There was a lot of hurt in those older players. You heard Sexto' talk after the match.

"And the younger lads who have such a huge appetite to actually play.

"There is a nice blend between the two groups, those younger lads who are desperate for winning and those older lads who feel that we have not achieved enough over the last number of years.

"We're in a good spot."

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