Sunday 21 October 2018

Scott Fardy on course to join Leinster legends

Monday breakdown

Scott Fardy. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Scott Fardy. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

At the heart of Leinster's three previous European Cup successes has been a grizzled foreign import, and Scott Fardy is well on course to join that special club.

The likes of Rocky Elsom, Felipe Contepomi and Brad Thorn remain crowd favourites within the province, and judging from what people are saying about the impact the Fardy is having, not just on the pitch, but off it as well, the versatile Australian is certainly making his presence felt at the club.

When the 33-year-old decided to move to the other side of the world, there was a lot of disappointment back home as he ended his Wallaby career, and it's easy to see why now.

James Ryan in particular has benefited hugely from having a player of Fardy's calibre in the squad, while such are the standards that he demands of his team-mates, the seasoned veterans are also learning from him.

Another towering, try-scoring performance on Saturday, saw Fardy pick up the man-of-the-match award as his aggression at the breakdown and more broadly his rugby brain had him to the fore in guiding Leinster into the final.

Immense

"He's been immense on and off the pitch, throughout the Six Nations and the November internationals," Johnny Sexton said of the impact that Fardy has had.

"This is why it's so important the club sign these quality foreigners and professionals. He doesn't train as hard in the gym as Brad Thorn did, I don't think he goes to the gym actually!

"Different guys come in over the years, obviously Isa has had the biggest impact - there was Contepomi - on me on the group. These guys that come in are quality players and individuals. He (Fardy) has been outstanding for us."

As if that wasn't praise enough, another of Leinster's stalwarts added his view of Fardy.

"He was outstanding today," Rob Kearney enthused. "He's one of those four lads who was nominated for player of the tournament as well so he's shown a consistency throughout.

"I think the most impressive thing about Scott is off the field, what he's doing with the younger guys and his coaching and mentoring. The manner in which he turned up today was incredible and a massive credit to him."

Leading Leinster back to European glory would certainly cement Fardy's place amongst the pantheon of greats.

No excuses for Munster as they look to bridge gap to next level

This time last year, after Saracens dumped Munster out of the Champions Cup, it wasn't unfair to suggest that they had over-achieved in reaching the last four. Twelve months on and the same thing can be said, as they are left playing catch-up to Europe's elite.

Pointing to Munster's two-week trip to South Africa is futile, and while they were missing some key players like Jaco Taute, Chris Farrell, Tommy O'Donnell and Chris Cloete, the fact of the matter is, they were blown away by a much better team.

The quality of rugby that Leinster played on Saturday, which Racing followed yesterday, was simply on another level. Johann van Graan has done a fine job in the short space of time that he has been at the club, and he will be given time to fully put his stamp on the team.

Munster supporters are realistic about where their side is right now, and not many would disagree that they are still a couple of top-class players short of dining at the top table in Europe again.

Immense Ryan comes back to haunt home club

A penny for the thoughts of Niall Scannell and Rhys Marshall as both hookers looked down the lineout and saw Donnacha Ryan looming large.

The presence of Ryan alone spooked the Munster lineout all afternoon as he reminded everyone of just what they are missing.

For many, the manner of Ryan's move to Racing still leaves a sour taste, but for a man who has Munster Rugby in his DNA, this was a truly bittersweet moment. The Tipperary native continued his outstanding debut season as Ryan put in another immense shift.

The totemic lock made 19 tackles, the most of any player on the pitch, as he set the tempo in defence with a typically aggressive display.

Munster fans wouldn't have expected anything less from their former talisman.

Gibson-Park up for final fight

Luke McGrath is expected to return for the Champions Cup final in three weeks, but Jamison Gibson-Park isn’t about the hand back the number nine jersey without a fight.

The Kiwi slotted in well and benefited hugely from playing alongside Johnny Sexton, who was coolness personified.

“I feel for him (McGrath) as he would love to be out there but we’ve got him another game and I’d imagine he’ll be back for the big one,” Gibson-Park said.

“I was out there trying to do my best for the team. I’m very happy with how today went. I’m pretty happy for the whole team really.”

Gibson-Park has already won a Super Rugby title with the Hurricanes, and now very much wants to add a Champions Cup winner’s medal to his growing collection.

There was a good bit of relief around the changing room,” he added.

“We have to enjoy this but there’s still a good bit of time to build to Bilbao.

“They don’t come around too often so we’ll enjoy it but we’re looking forward to getting stuck into our work again.

“We prepared and knew what was coming. A lot of that was down to the preparation there as we had a good week with that.”

Irish Independent

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