Fitzgerald impresses as he responds to Leinster’s needs

Switching between centre and wing doesn’t faze Ireland star getting back to his best

Leinster’s Luke Fitzgerald would love to make the match squad against England on Sunday. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Leinster’s Luke Fitzgerald would love to make the match squad against England on Sunday. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Luke Fitzgerald has learned to be less self-critical, the benefit of which can be measured, tangibly, in yet another high-calibre performance, one liberally sprinkled with the razzle-dazzle of his footwork.

Leinster needed him against Zebre, badly, and he responded accordingly, a catalyst for victory. In the aftermath he spoke about “having a more relaxed approach to playing the game”, the upshot of which was “making it a lot easier for me to switch positions and a lot calmer doing it”.

“As you get a bit more mature you realise that being intense, uptight before these things probably doesn’t add any value,” he added. “It’s probably a bit of wasted energy. It doesn’t give you clarity of thought out on the pitch. When things are happening really fast, being calm at that moment [is important].”

Since his return from long-term injury he’s switched between outside centre and wing but it is in the latter position that Fitzgerald’s immediate future lies in relation to the Ireland team.

He’s spoken to Ireland coach Joe Schmidt and also Leinster’s Matt O’Connor, paying tribute to the latter for the way in which he’s facilitated the player where possible in terms of positions on the pitch.

In fairness

“I feel like I’m in a really good spot. I feel like I’m getting close to where I was. I feel like there is a huge amount of potential left in me. I was just saying to the medical guys in Irish camp and in Leinster camp that I’m starting to feel normal again, not worrying about it (the injury).

“All the continuity in the training has been great for me and all the games in a row because it has given me all that fitness in the area. I feel like I don’t have to worry about that now and I can just go out and play.”

Fitzgerald was 24th man for Ireland’s game against France and would love to make the match squad against England on Sunday.

“”I don’t think I have to do anything more than I am doing. I know from getting the feedback from Joe that I’m knocking on the door and I’m really, really close. If I keep playing well and training well I’ll eventually get there.”

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