Blues' big step up
YORKSHIRE native is revelling in culture at Leinster after move from Leeds.
THERE is something of ‘The Big Easy’ about Tom Denton in the manner of his sway and his way.
The Yorkshire man’s first impression is of a gentle giant with a genial smile, all set under a crop of red hair. You couldn’t get more Irish if you were walking down O’Connell Street on St Patrick’s Day.
Maybe he received his hair colour from his mother’s side of the family – she is from Belfast – but don’t mistake the manner for the man.
Denton signed a two-year contract to move from Leeds Carnegie to Leinster in the summer and battle it out for game time with club captain Leo Cullen, Damian Browne, Devin Toner and South African import Quinn Roux.
It should come as no surprise that the English second row, formerly identified as “an England international of the future” by his then forwards coach Neil Back, is eager to progress his career.
“I played last year in the Championship with Leeds. When I got asked to come over to Leinster it was such a great opportunity for me, I couldn’t refuse,” he said.
The yo-yo uncertainty of moving between the Premiership, where he spent three seasons, and the Championship at Leeds Carnegie has played a part in stalling his career.
“It is a big step up to come to a place like here. The facilities are great. The coaches are outstanding. It is just the culture we’ve got here. Everyone works so hard. And, obviously, the rewards have come from that.”
The management have been quick to stress how Denton has immediately bonded with the squad, moving in with Rhys Ruddock.
This is no mercenary on the prowl for a quick financial fix. He stayed loyal to Leeds when he could have decamped for new pastures on losing Premiership status at the end of 2007/2008.
“I was under contract with Leeds. So, I stayed with the club. It was a step back going from the Premiership to the Championship,” he said.
“But there are areas of your game that you do develop in that league (Championship), especially in the tight five. I did feel loyalty to Leeds. It was my first club. I was developed there.”
When Denton considered the impact of relegation from the Premiership again last season, it was time to put his career first. He had made 60 appearances for Leeds, 19 in his final season there.
“As soon as Leinster came in for me, it was a pretty easy decision for me to make really. I couldn’t really refuse,” he said.
Denton is pragmatic about his future in the game. He knows he has to dive into learning the systems and grow into Leinster’s fast-paced style of play, something that wouldn’t have been commonplace in the grind of the Premiership.
“You want to play every game, don’t you? It was great to get my first start in front of such a huge crowd, not something we would get at Leeds.
“Any opportunity I get, I am going to play as if it is my biggest game. You need to make the most of the chances.
“I like that. I prefer to play in a game where there’s pressure.
“Being in an environment around international players, you are always going to have to step up to that level. It is a different style here. It is a faster tempo, definitely.
“I think that makes you a better all-round rugby player. You have to make your decisions quickly. You have to react a lot quicker.”
Denton refuses to look too far ahead.
It is Connacht at the Sportsground on Friday night and he just wants another opportunity.