Belfast Telegraph

Ireland can get it right and I want to play my part: McFadden


Aim high: Fergus McFadden has Ireland ambitions
Aim high: Fergus McFadden has Ireland ambitions

By Cian Tracey

There will be an extra buzz around the corridors of Leinster HQ today as the returning Ireland players get back to the day job.

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The likelihood is that the squad will be split into two as one half prepares for Friday's Guinness PRO14 meeting with Edinburgh, while the heavy hitters look towards next week's Champions Cup quarter-final against Ulster.

Those who have kept the show on the road for the last couple of months will not be passing up their spot without a fight and given how Leo Cullen has tended to reward players who are in good form regardless of their reputation, he may have a few welcome selection headaches come next week.

It has been a frustrating season for Fergus McFadden who missed out on Six Nations selection due to the hamstring injury he picked up last October.

This is an important period for the 32-year-old because, on one hand, he is out of contract at the end of the season and, secondly, McFadden has not given up hope of earning a recall for the World Cup.

Players will be motivated for different reasons over the coming days and McFadden knows all about coping with disappointment on the international stage.

"I've always found it (coming back to Leinster) the perfect tonic, either side of the coin," McFadden maintains.

"Last year, I was involved in a couple of games and in the camp for the full Six Nations.

"We were all on a high from winning the Grand Slam. It was refreshing coming back in here. That eight- or nine-week period in camp is great to be involved in, but very intense.

"Everyone has to go back to their club teams and get back to their competitions there.

"I have no doubt, even if the lads had won the Six Nations, they would still be coming back here with a smile on their faces and be happy to see us, mixing back in with the boys.

"I would say it will be a nice freshener for a few of them coming back in here, training with us all, sleeping in their own beds for a while. You are stuck in hotels for a long time."

McFadden has plenty of competition if he is to force his way back into Joe Schmidt's plans for the World Cup, but it certainly helps that the Kiwi has never been shy in showing faith in him when fit.

The Kildare native's reputation was also not damaged by missing the disappointing Six Nations campaign, which could also work in his favour come selection time.

"At the moment, all I've got in my mind is trying to get back in this Leinster team," he admits.

"Last year I hadn't been in the squads for a while through reasons of injury and my form not being very good.

"I was playing pretty well for most of the season and I was in the Leinster team for the bigger games.

"If I'm in the Leinster team for the big matches, I can't be too far away from being involved in the Irish team.

"At the moment, the priority is getting back in this Leinster team because it is just as tough as trying to get into the Irish side."

McFadden has been scratching his head as to how Ireland have gone from Grand Slam champions to a third-place finish.

"There is no better coach to get some of the stuff they got wrong, right. There is time to do that," he insists.

"There's a lot of time to the World Cup and I just don't want to think we need to be pressing the panic button just yet.

"I have no doubt that team will get things right and get momentum going to Japan."

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