Connacht prop Nathan White is hopeful the Westerners can get 2016 off to a flying start when they visit his former side Leinster at the RDS.
The New Zealander had a memorable 2015 which saw him finally make his Irish debut before going on to feature in each of the five games at the World Cup, but now he is hopeful to get the new year off to winning start for Connacht.
Connacht have only won once in Dublin in the professional era when a last-gasp drop goal from former Leinster player Mark McHugh gave them victory in 2002.
Now White, a Heineken Cup winner in his sole season with Leinster in 2011-12, is hoping that they can end a 12-match losing run in Dublin and get their Pro12 campaign back on track after successive losses to Cardiff Blues and Ulster.
“It’s a great challenge to go to Dublin but we have a good group of young guys who are pretty enthusiastic about it all. They are back bouncing around which drives the older guys on,” he said.
White, who made his Irish debut off the bench in the World Cup warm-up against Scotland, is hoping to feature in his first Six Nations in February.
He has provided a strong vein of experience as coach Pat Lam has had to dip into the academy in recent weeks to cover an injury crisis.
“We have got a few injuries so a lot of young guys are playing and they are playing outstanding rugby. It’s driving us older guys to really step up and keep going with them, and compete hard with them. We are in a pretty good spot.”
He said that Leinster’s poor results in the Champions Cup had done little to reduce the task facing his men on Friday, not least as Leo Cullen’s men chalked up their fifth successive Pro12 win by beating Munster 24-7 at the weekend.
“I don’t think it’s really a demise. They played a Toulon team that’s pretty handy. And they were only losing by a few points. They don’t become a bad team overnight, they have got class players.
“I still think it’s a pretty tough outfit to go and beat in Dublin.”