Tuesday 17 October 2017

Battle-hardened Fardy relishing first Champions Cup challenge

Leinster's Scott Fardy during squad training at Thornfields in UCD, Belfield, Dublin. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Leinster's Scott Fardy during squad training at Thornfields in UCD, Belfield, Dublin. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

What is it about Leinster and signing veteran locks who go on to have a major say in their short stay with the province?

The likes of Brad Thorn and Nathan Hines made their impact felt at the latter stage of their illustrious careers and if Scott Fardy's early-season performances are anything to go by, the battle-hardened former Wallaby will follow their lead.

Not that Fardy is out to do that, the 33-year-old who joined from the Brumbies last summer has his sights on creating his own legacy in blue.

Accolade

Johnny Sexton picked up his second consecutive man-of-the-match award in last weekend's win over Munster but Fardy couldn't have been far away from pipping the record-breaking out-half to the accolade.

Fardy was outstanding at the Aviva in his first taste of the Leinster-Munster rivalry and his partnership with Devin Toner in the engine room looks increasingly like a real force.

The 39-times-capped Australian has played in his fair share of derbies down through the years and the timing of last week's has set Leinster up for tomorrow's mouthwatering Champions Cup opener against a bruising Montpellier side.

"It was a great introduction to what is a pretty famous derby," Fardy said. "The atmosphere was fantastic. We were happy with the result, but there are a few things to work on. It was pretty physical, always is at this level. It is all that close-quarters stuff. Edinburgh was the same last week.

"Super Rugby is a different beast. Sometimes it can get real physical. The Waratahs were our rivals when I was with the Brumbies. They were very physical games. It was very similar. There was a lot on the line."

A totally different prospect lies ahead against Vern Cotter's men tomorrow but Fardy doesn't fear them for a second.

"They are a quality side and they've gone really well at the start of the season," he maintained.

"We're playing at home and we want a big crowd at the RDS. That should lift us into a big game.

"I have played against some of them in Super Rugby. It'll be a big challenge. They have good kickers of the ball, (Aaron) Cruden and (Jesse) Mogg, left- and right-footers.

"They will put us under pressure in that area, play a good territory game. We've got to make sure that we don't let them kick easily and put them under pressure."

Fardy has taken little or no time to settle into his new surrounds and Leinster are currently the reaping the rewards of that, yet the player himself feels there is much more to come from him and his team-mates this season. The slow build-up to the business part of the season is over and Fardy is primed to make his presence felt as his first European campaign fast approaches.

"The first few games were great as well, it's a whole squad effort, the young guys in the squad are excellent," he added. "They perform so well, not only in games, but also in training, everyone trains so hard and looks after each other, it makes it an easy place to perform. I don't think I've played my best yet. It's an easy place to come, everyone's been great, even off-field stuff has been fantastic.

Record

"When you walk in everyone takes you under their wing, and looks after you, it's great for me, a great place to walk in every day and enjoy going to work.

"You want to be part of those big games, they're obviously important, but every game is important within a season. Leinster have a fantastic record in Europe and I want to be part of that.

"It gets a bit real pretty quickly, doesn't it? Domestically, back home, you have to get into competitions quite quickly and the season's over quickly, but here the first five or six games you don't have Lions players or that, so it's been a strange process for me, but it's something I've enjoyed to see the depth Leinster have."

Irish Independent

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