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Tracy to assume hooker role as Blues' MacDonald chase stalls

LEINSTER have run out of road in their pursuit of signing hooker Quentin MacDonald, at least for the time being.

The New Zealander could not secure a work permit in time and the registering of James Tracy for Leinster's Heineken Cup squad yesterday casts a shadow over his transfer.

Leinster face into the final two rounds of Pool 1 in Europe with Ireland international Sean Cronin, Aaron Dundon and the newly upgraded Tracy as their three hookers. When Richardt Strauss discovered a hole in his heart, the process to recruit another hooker with experience began in October.

MacDonald emerged as the best option. The Tasman Mako has solid credentials from his time at Canterbury Crusaders (2010-2012) and Auckland Blues (2013).

The glitch in finalising a deal has left coach Matt O'Connor with no option but to promote Tracy.

The former Newbridge College loose-head, capped there 10 times for the Ireland U20s, is still in the infancy of a transition into hooker.

He made his debut for Leinster against the Ospreys in the Pro12 League the season before last as a replacement at hooker for Tom Sexton, since transferred to Melbourne Rebels.

The switch from one-to-two requires many changes, the main one of which is how to master the technique of throwing the ball at line-out time.

Tracy made his second appearance for Leinster, playing 14 minutes against Ulster in the Pro12, over the festive period on December 28. In the midst of all the transfer speculation, this speaks to Leinster's thin in-house resources.


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