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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 20 February, 2019

'Some guys won't make the plane, but you've got to die trying'

Fergus McFadden won’t be dragged out of his positive mental state by speculation about squad cuts.

“THIS IS THE Diary Room I suppose I’m in at the moment,” says Fergus McFadden with a raised eyebrow and only a vague hint of a grin.

The Leinster wing rarely allows his razor sharp wit to come across as clearly in interviews as he does on Twitter, but when reporters crowd around and make him feel like a teenager by likening the competition in Ireland training camp to the Big Brother House, he couldn’t resist.

Fergus, please do not swear (kids, ask your aul’ pair about that reference):

“Listen, it’s a group effort. And some guys won’t make the plane in the end, but you’ve got to die trying, I suppose.”

Fergus McFadden Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

McFadden currently finds himself in a very large ‘maybe’ pile of Irish rugby talent. He can’t claim to be a regular international starter. So he can’t guarantee whether he’ll be plying his trade in Ireland or England this September. But he’s more than capable of changing that state of play.

The assembled interviewers were probably guilty of dwelling on questions about the mental state of players in McFadden’s position.

‘Joe sees everything’

However, rather than idly agreeing that missing out would shatter his dreams, his best laid plans, he man remained the model pro and presented the picture of a camp where everyone is pulling in the same direction. Pushing one another to be the best they can be and trusting that the head coach takes note of their efforts.

“Joe’s main point is just: ‘doing jobs where you make guys look around you.

“He spots those things. So nobody’s looking to go out there and grab an opportunity for (individual) glory. It’s a group thing where we’re looking to get the win together. First and foremost, if we come away from Wales with a win, great. Anything else that comes, we’ll see.

“From a lot of experience being coached under Joe, I know he does those things and he sees everything. I’m under no illusions that the hard workers and the guys who do things to make other guys look good get rewarded.”

Fergus McFadden Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

It’s easy to put McFadden in the ‘hard worker’ category. He is far from the caricature of a wing. He is not exceptionally fast in comparison to peers in his position, nor is he a towering Shane Horgan-style target to hit out wide.

He might just be everything in between though. What he lacks in flash turns, he makes up for by being consistently clinical, possessing a relentless ruck ethic and having a mind that always seems to be embarking on a manoeuvre – legal or otherwise – that can create a gap a few phases down the road.

Along with being a 93 kilo ‘enforcer’ and being coached under Schmidt’s watchful eye since 2010, the converted centre’s chances of being in the final 31-man squad are further boosted by his adaptability. The 29-year-old is right to remain positive about his chances no matter how often the gathered press pack ask him to imagine the alternative.

I just think we need to move away from that. I know you guys think it’s about individuals and pressing, but something that’s been hammered into us, and guys are pretty selfless about, is that this is about Ireland. Going over and getting a win in the Millennium and trying to get a good team performance.”

“You can’t be thinking about that (squad cuts) going out and training. There’s not going to be many guys who have made it this far – the last 45, the best players in Ireland – and be contending for a World Cup place if they’re thinking like that.

“I don’t think it’s a good place to be mentally.

“All I can do is get out there, train as best you can and, when you get your opportunities, take them and do your best for the team.”

Don’t worry, Big Brother / Joe is watching.

The immovable Mike Ross and more talking points on Ireland’s first team-sheet of the season

Healy could earn RWC place without playing… as long as he’s fit for Canada — Schmidt

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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