23 Apr 14
This weekend the 16th Man takes to the seas and skies as the Red Army #InvadeMarseille for the Heineken Cup semi-final. Here's your guide to what's going on and how to get around Marseille.
"Apart from that period, in the last ten minutes we showed some ability to come back but again we probably squandered at least three or four opportunities when, if we were good enough to execute, at the back end of the game in a clutched performance, which we weren't, we had the ability to drag that game out. And that's where we're falling down at this point in time."
"But very happy with the response. We had a session indoors on Monday afternoon and then on Tuesday we were in Thomond Park and it's been a very positive environment so looking forward to the new challenge that Heineken games present."
In terms of deciding the outcome McGahan is quite clear, "Once you reach this stage of the competition, round three, four, back-to-back", he says, "every game and especially so this weekend is dictated by the intensity a side brings to it."
"When you look at the way the breakdown is being refereed, when you look at the carry look at those places where contact is met that intensity usually wins and usually dictates a lot of the referee's perception of what is happening at the breakdown or on both sides of the ball. So intensity is a very important part of where the game is at the moment."
Nor is he in any doubt about the quality of the opposition or where this game tonight will be won and lost. "We'd be expecting them to be at their best. They've been in super form in the Top 14 this year and had a very good display at home to Northampton in ERC 2."
"They have an extremely good set piece. Anything twenty thirty metres out from the try-line whether its maul or scrum, the only thing they're thinking of is getting points."
"They're a very set piece dominated side. They play a lot of field position. They kick a lot from their back forty, back fifty so they don't play alot of rugby from there at all. But their major threat is working their way from kicking, from forcing penalties at the set piece, to get down to the bottom twenty and they look to grind you down from there. Without a doubt the forwards will be the battle piece this weekend."
Nor are they slouches when it comes to defending. "They're an excellent defence side. They're well organised around the ruck. They have a huge presence on your ball. They have an excellent load tackle and they work very hard on your ball."
"Our support play this week will have to be excellent. You really can't be getting isolated or running down any dead alleys. Well organised defence. Very simple but very effective game plan."
Mission impossible ? "Not at all." McGahan says. "We've been here before. Of course we have to be aware, to recognise the opposition's strengths. As we've said it's as much about our performance. If we get that to where we know we can we'll give a good account of ourselves."