Ulster captain Johan Muller was quick to correct one reporter earlier this week when the word “holiday” was used to describe the team’s stint in sunny Portugal last week.
There may have been a barbecue one night and the odd round of golf but it was far more work than play. Contact drills were a constant, apparently, but it still sounds preferable to the wintry week Leinster were made endure here at home.
Topping it off last Saturday was a gruelling 80 minutes against Glasgow at the RDS punctuated by Leinster players being helped off the field by the province’s medical staff.
Eoin Reddan has been in this scenario before in the run-up to a Heineken Cup final. In 2007, the Leinster scrum-half was part of a Wasps side that had three weeks to fill before their meeting with an almost unbackable Leicester and claimed a shock 25-9 win.
Not the most favourable of omens, all told.
“We hadn’t played for, it might have been three weeks or something, and they had played two finals in a row and won them and were going for the treble,” said Reddan. “To be honest, most of the Wasps lads don’t like the Leicester lads very much.
“A lot of those lads had won a Heineken Cup before so stopping Leicester was definitely as much a motivation as winning the thing.
“At Wasps that time we had 17 players and having three weeks to have everyone on the physio table and ready… Alex King played very well in the final and was on crutches two weeks before that so that was a totally different situation.
“With the squad we have now it is good to be able to give guys a shot at getting in the team and keeping competition for places up there and judging by the way we went [against Glasgow] we needed the game to improve on things for next week.”
Much was made of Leinster’s difficulties at the breakdown against the Scots but intensity will not be a problem at Twickenham this Saturday for a side chasing a third European crown in four years.
“People can talk about whatever number they want but there is just one [Heineken Cup] up for grabs,” said Reddan. “It is such a massive occasion in itself for a player to run out. To say you are underdogs or favourites has never come into it in my experience.
“The media likes those tags but no one really gets there if they are not good enough. In my experience, anyway.”
Wasps are proof of that.
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