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"It's almost trying to create our own atmosphere" | Luke McGrath


Only 200 people can attend the latest instalment of Irish Rugby's biggest derby but Luke McGrath believes the players can create their own energy.

The Guinness PRO14 season restarts this weekend and the Aviva Stadium stages two Irish derbies with Leinster and Munster the first of the four provinces to meet this Saturday.

There were concerns over the match going ahead after a Munster academy player tested positive for Covid-19 but thankfully the province returned to training today and the Blues scrum-half was keen to send his best wishes.

"We heard about the Munster player last week and obviously you never know if the games are going to go ahead but we're very confident it will at this stage. We wish that Munster player a speedy recovery," said McGrath.

"It's such a strange scenario so you almost have to take it day by day but thankfully we come in, everyone got tested today, all going well everything will be alright tomorrow when we get the results and we can just look forward to playing Munster."

What can seem like five years ago now rather than months, the Blues squad was gearing up for a trip to South Africa for league matches against the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs.

With the Six Nations in full flow as well, they were preparing for the match without their international contingent before the pandemic saw everything shudder to a dramatic halt.

"It was just such a [strange] scenario back in March. We thought we were going to South Africa, we thought the game was going ahead in France [v Ireland, Six Nations]," said McGrath.

"It's crazy to talk to [the media] now and that's five months ago but it's important we still think about the government guidelines because we're still a long way off from getting crowds in unfortunately.

"I'm just really looking forward to, all going well, we'll get out there on Saturday and put on a great game for everyone to watch."

Unfortunately, everyone will be watching from home, bar the extended provincial parties, some broadcast media and stadium staff - numbering a couple of hundred in total.

That brings it's own challenges for the men on the pitch who would normally have the guttural roar of the Leinster supporters urging them on against their arch-rivals.

"From a personal point of view it's going to be very different, very strange," said McGrath.

"I think it's important as a team we create almost like an internal energy so instead of feeding off the crowd which we would be used to, just to feed off each other and try an build on those big moments in the game that hopefully we' can be able to have and those positive ones.

"It's almost trying to create our own atmosphere which will be a challenge but it's something we have talked about and it'll be very interesting to see what it's like on Saturday."

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Aviva Stadium Guinness Pro14 Leinster Leinster Rugby Luke Mcgrath Munster

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