I rejoined the squad on Monday after a week off like the rest of the Ireland players. I went on a mini road trip with good friends, we drove around the West Coast of Ireland in a Camper van, the weather wasn't great and I think I am paler now than before I left!
It was great just to get away and relax. It is important to learn how to switch off, we train so much at such a high intensity that a week off is like gold dust so I try to make the most of it but I'm glad to be back with the rest of the squad.
On Wednesday we were split up into groups to do weights training in the afternoon which is always quite intensive and before that we had training and match meetings for Tactical Decision Makers (TDM).
The best teams in the world are made up of leaders and that's what TDM helps to encourage. It's important for the team not just for match preparation but because a combined input takes some of the emphasis off Matt and puts the onus onto the entire team to take responsibility and to lead. Training varies a lot from day to day and I think that's important because it stops you from just going through the motions and forces everyone to really stretch themselves. When new things are introduced and you're out of your comfort zone some of the best results can be achieved.
Captain's Run today will be a lighter run through. What we have practised throughout the week is an important part of the preparation because it pulls together all the areas that the team has been working on and it is the last opportunity to iron out any last minute problems.
All the preparation and hard work is in place to try to produce a positive effect on the pitch, so the game ahead is always in the forefront of everyone's mind. The focus is very much on Connacht so there is a real buzz in training leading up to such an important match.
Obviously it very important for us to take a win this Friday, we are confident that we can and are approaching it with a positive mindset. The atmosphere is positive and everyone is looking forward to playing at Ravenhill.