Kevin McLaughlin believes the RaboDirect PRO12 games taking place during the Six Nations will form a crucial part of Leinster’s season.
Matt O’Connor’s men face into four league matches in as many weeks, beginning with Sunday’s trip to second-from-bottom Zebre.
Defending champions Leinster currently lie in second place in the RaboDirect PRO12 behind Munster who top the table by three points.
Kevin McLaughlin reckons that if his side want to retain their league title then picking up wins over the next few weeks will be a vital part of that.
“I think in the last Six Nations period we had four games and we targeted 16 points and I think we ended up getting 18 points,” said the St. Mary’s College clubman.
“It actually pretty much ended up winning us the PRO12 because we got a home semi-final and went on from there. That was the really important period where we put up a few points on some teams.”
On a personal level, McLaughlin also views the next block of matches as a chance for him to put in some good performances and get back to playing regular rugby.
“It’s always a good opportunity, especially for someone like me who has had a difficult couple of months (through injury) to just get going, start playing some rugby and I’m looking forward to it.”
McLaughlin, along with other senior players in the Leinster squad, will play an important role in guiding some of the younger players through these upcoming fixtures against Zebre (home and away), at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons and away to Cardiff Blues.
The Ireland international believes the province’s young guns can step up to the mark and help Leinster pick up some key victories.
“It’s a case of the senior guys that are still here making sure that the mood is right. The talent is there, guys just have to step up and perform now and hopefully we can get four wins.”
While hooker Richardt Strauss sat out Leinster’s training session at UCD on Tuesday, he is expected to be fit for selection ahead of Friday’s team announcement when players released from the Ireland camp will also be available to Matt O’Connor.
Leinster are away to Zebre in the PRO12 this coming Sunday. You can travel with the squad to the match in Parma – click here for further details.