Sport Rugby

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Connacht hail McCarthy's decision to spurn Leinster

Hugh Farrelly

Connacht claim Mike McCarthy turned down Heineken Cup favourites Leinster to remain with the western province.

Last month, English-born McCarthy committed to Connacht until the end of the 2012/13 season while Leinster have since signed former Connacht second-row Damien Browne to fill the void left by the retirement of Trevor Hogan and Nathan Hines' exit to Clermont.

"Mike has been huge for us this season and has shown his commitment to Connacht by choosing to stay here when he could have gone to Leinster," said Connacht forwards coach Dan McFarland. "I know Leinster were very keen to sign him and we are delighted he chose to stay with us.

"He came to us as a back-row but we have had to use him as a second-row and it has worked to the point that he is now running our line-out.

"Mike has been very good to us and Connacht have been very good for him too," added McFarland, who says the uncapped McCarthy should be part of Ireland's World Cup squad later this year.

"Connacht do not get as much media attention as the other provinces and Mike's performances have not got the recognition they deserve.

"I may be biased but I believe he is the most athletic back-five forward in Ireland and it was great to see him called into the Six Nations squad this season.

"I have spoken to (Ireland forwards coach) Gert Smal about him and I think Mike is the best option for the second-row/back-row slot for the World Cup.

"Donnacha Ryan, Kevin McLaughlin and Dan Tuohy are all good players pushing for that spot but, in terms of athleticism, line-out ability, aggression and defence, Mike is the best option."

McCarthy is expected to start at blind-side flanker when Connacht travel to Ravenhill to face play-off chasing Ulster in the Magners League on Friday.

Irish Independent

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