Dan Sheehan may still be relatively new on the scene, but he knows how to give a diplomatic answer.

With four tries in last Friday night's 42-10 win against Benetton, he boosted his already impressive try-scoring record, and with 20 tries in just 30 games, he's already crossed the whitewash more times than some seasoned campaigners like Josh van der Flier, Rhys Ruddock and even Robbie Henshaw.

He knows what side of his bread is buttered though. With three of those four scores coming off the back of dominant mauls, he's more than happy to pass credit off to the rest of the pack.

"The team performance I think was top of it," he said, when asked to reflect on his Player of the Match award last Friday night.

"I scored one pick-and-go try, the rest were the lads' tries and I think it’s easy to sit here and say, 'Oh, it was great to score four tries', but it was the pack that scored three tries which I probably stole off Josh [Van der Flier].

If it was as easy as just falling over the line, anybody could have done it, but history would show that Sheehan is just the third forward and first front rower to score four tries in single game in the competition's history.

From both a Leinster and Ireland point of view, the long-term future of the hooker position looks water-tight, with Sheehan and Rónan Kelleher both just 24-years-old.

Kelleher looked to be the De facto first choice last season, while he even got himself a four-try haul on Ireland duty in the summer 2021 win against USA, but multiple shoulder injuries stuttered his campaign, and have allowed Sheehan close that gap.

Both hookers are likely to feature in tomorrow night's BKT United Rugby Championship Interpro against Ulster at Kingspan Stadium, and regardless of who starts and who comes off the bench, if their lineout and maul move in a similar vein to last week, they'll get plenty of looks at the tryline.

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"Yeah the lineout fired really well and I thought our go-forward from it was top class," Sheehan added.

"Even outfield, getting that go-forward, sucking them [Benetton] in and then being able to capitalise on them being tight with the backs playing their plays off the back of it.

"It's something we’ve been working hard on and looking to keep it going now, it’s a big part of our game."

Last season, Ulster did a rare double over their neighbours in the URC, with a free-flowing performance at the RDS in November followed by a dogged display in the wind and rain in Belfast in March.

And while Sheehan missed both of those derby matches, he says it hasn't been forgotten by his Leinster teammates.

"It's always a massive game for us. Ulster have been improving season on season the last few years, and they’ve become a really good team, as shown last year where they did us twice, so motivation is at top-level for next week.

"I think everyone will be gunning to get going after having one game under the belt and will be ready for next Friday.

"I played [against Ulster] in the season before, when we won a good game, but it's always said in that fist pre-season meeting it’s a game we need to target. Ravenhill away in the last few years have been proper battles and it’s always a deciding game with where we stand in the table. So, I think this game is probably our biggest game in the next block that we really need to be firing for."

The trip to Belfast also kickstarts a difficult run of games for last season's Irish Shield winners, with games against the Sharks, Connacht and Munster all coming in successive weeks.

And while it's still early days in the season, ever point matters.

"We have a lot of meetings at the start of the season and during pre-season blocks about what we're about this year, what we want to be, changes from last year, coming off the back of a disappointing season last year where we probably went well all the way up to the end, but the end is where it matters.

"So we set a goal to make sure we're taking every single point available and then it will just be about continuing that form throughout the season, especially toward the end of the season where one slip will cost you a title.

"I think everyone is in good form and ready to crack into the next season"

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