O'Halloran relishes licence to attack

 Licence to attack:  Fullback Tiernan O'Halloran, in Connacht's win over Munster, will looking for another interprovincial victory whenLeinster visit the Sportsground in  Saturday's top of the table clash.

Licence to attack: Fullback Tiernan O'Halloran, in Connacht's win over Munster, will looking for another interprovincial victory whenLeinster visit the Sportsground in Saturday's top of the table clash.

Ask Connacht fullback Tiernan O'Halloran if, at the start of the season, he would have expected to be facing Leinster on Saturday in a top-of-the-table Pro 12 clash, and the answer is a no brainer.

Seven years with the Connacht senior squad, O'Halloran, like most of his teammates, has had to be content with small incremental achievements, including the odd victory over Leinster. But not anymore.

"When we got the win over Munster in Thomond Park for the first time, there was a kind of hint that this was different, and that brought confidence to the lads," he says.

"And then, when we beat our points total in February, it was at that stage the realisation set in, that it was different to other seasons, and it was something special."

Despite a Christmas dip in form, O'Halloran said belief remained with the players; "the realisation that if we keep going and pick up a few results, we would be right there coming to the end".

"Winning is a habit as much as losing was for us, and it has built the confidence in the squad, and so it became more a realisation that we can do it, there's no reason why we can't."

Now O'Halloran and his teammates are "buzzing"; the Sportsground is a sell-out with an increased capacity to 7,300, and "everyone is training with happy faces and in good form".

Although the 25-years-old missed last year's 10-9 victory over Leinster through injury, the stakes have never been as high.

"The position we have put ourselves in throughout the season, to be coming into March after the Six Nations is over, and be in a top-of-the-table clash with a team like Leinster, which is always a massive game, puts that extra gloss on it.

"I've never been in this situation come March. It's probably the biggest one ever for me, and I can't wait for it. We are hoping the internationals lads will be released, so no excuses - full on - and it's going to be very physical."

The former Connemara and Galwegian player accepts Leinster have threats all over the pitch, and Lam has highlighted that Connacht, with the best attacking record, is now up against the best defence in the league.

"We are under no illusions how tough it's going to be to break down Leinster, but we have to look at ourselves. We are the top scoring team and know that if we stick to our systems, we will create trying scoring opportunities. It is definitely one that will take while to break, but something we believe we can do."

O'Halloran is relishing the new-found attacking freedom given to the back three this season.

"Pat has given us licence, whereas for a back three player maybe in the past it was 'have that look up and play in the right areas', now Pat has says is putting pressure on the other lads to get back and help us, so we are allowed to have a go."

Having remained in the top four throughout the entire season, O'Halloran does not want to think about letting that lead slip.

"We are just taking one game at time, and this one is the biggest of the season."

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