Sunday 5 February 2023 Dublin: -2°C
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# Fond farewell
Encore for Cullen and O'Driscoll the major motivator for Leinster -- McGrath
Leinster’s international want to finish the season top of the pile, and that means beating Edinburgh,

WITH ONLY EIGHTH place Edinburgh standing between Leinster and a top seeding in the RaboDirect Pro12 semi-finals, the squad is using any tool at its disposal to up the ante and ensure complacency does not become a factor.

Chief among the motivations is the wish to give captain Leo Cullen and former captain Brian O’Driscoll a winning farewell party from the RDS.

“We’d like to go out with a win for Leo and Brian. We’d like to finish it out for them,” says Jack McGrath, though he later conceded that the sentiment can prove distracting.

“Those two guys would be the first to tell you they don’t want it to be for them, but they’re such stalwarts that there’s going to be stuff made about it. We’ll have to put it to one side.There’s a game to win there and it has to be parked for the moment.”

Keeping the tributes and ‘bon voyage’ banners in storage is made all the easier with a home semi-final almost guaranteed.

Only a defeat without a losing bonus point could send the eastern province on the road for the playoff round,  but anything less than a win could allow Glasgow steal a march to the summit of the Pro12. Either way, it looks like Leinster will be embroiled in an all-Irish contest in the final four.

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Edinburgh’s immediate future is much clearer, after shipping 55 points at home to Munster, the Scottish outfit need a win to stand a chance of playing top-grade European rugby next season. Again, though, McGrath and Leinster are using Edinburgh motivations for their own gain.

“They’ll be hurting from that loss at home. Ross Ford, Greig Laidlaw and Dave Denton – they have the quality there and you can never underestimate them.

“They’ll be disappointed with this season and they’ll definitely turn up to really play and have a go with us.”

As for McGrath’s own season, the loosehead admitted it has been a task to cope with the increased requirements on his scrummaging talents, but having recovered from post-Six Nations injury, he is ready to try and end the year on a high note for himself, not just Cullen and O’Driscoll.

“It’s been a very enjoyable year. A bit of a surprise to me because I’ve never played this much. I’ve been injured on and off for the last six weeks, so I’ve maybe had a bit of a break then, but I’m raring to go to get back into it now.”

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