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McGrath sure he can be the master again

By Robert Jones

For Jack McGrath, last weekend was an unusual experience.

Only Devin Toner has played more Test matches for Ireland under Joe Schmidt, but when the coach revealed his team to take on the Springboks the prop found himself on the outside looking in.

Prior to Saturday's encounter, McGrath had only missed six matches - a World Cup warm-up against Scotland, the November meetings with Georgia and Canada and the three games last June when he was off featuring in all three Lions Tests.

A hip injury meant he sat out the training sessions that laid the groundwork for the game, but in match week he could have been forgiven for arriving into camp thinking he had enough credit in the bank to get a place in the 23. Not so - Cian Healy was starting and Dave Kilcoyne was on the bench.

"It was hard to take. I struggled last week with the selection, but I realised that the boys were playing well. You have to respect that, you have to respect the coach's decision," he said.

"I haven't been in a position like that before. It was hard, but the lads did a great job. When these sort of setbacks happen it makes you stronger as a person and a player."

Now, his focus is on reclaiming his place for the final November game against Argentina by putting in a good performance against Fiji on Saturday.

"Sometimes you have to step back and say, 'I haven't become a bad player overnight'," said McGrath.

"It's about going back to basics and not having negative thoughts and thinking, 'This is the end of me now'," added McGrath.

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