Thursday 23 January 2020

Connacht call to ‘share’ Blues’ talent

Friend: “I honestly believe Leinster are entitled to take their top, top players, but if there are players who are sitting fourth and fifth there and want game time, it would make sense to share that around.” Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Friend: “I honestly believe Leinster are entitled to take their top, top players, but if there are players who are sitting fourth and fifth there and want game time, it would make sense to share that around.” Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

As Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi shrugged off the suggestion that the province’s younger players may be forced out the exit door due to a lack of game-time, Connacht head coach Andy Friend said it was time to “share” out some of the resources of the PRO14 champions.

Such is the rate with which Leinster continue to produce exciting talents, head coach Leo Cullen faces a tough task in keeping them all happy.

The IRFU will be closely monitoring the situation and so too is Connacht head coach Andy Friend, who claimed:  “I honestly believe Leinster are entitled to take their top, top players, but if there are players who are sitting fourth and fifth there and want game time, it would make sense to share that around.”

Leinster currently have three outstanding No 8s on their books, while their openside stocks are growing, as well as the quality of their out-half options.

Johnny Sexton remains first-choice with Ross Byrne, his younger brother Harry, and Ciarán Frawley all scrapping it out for more minutes on the pitch, but Contepomi doesn’t believe it will become an issue for Leinster.

“It’s never too many,” the Argentinian said.  “The way we train, it’s like the way you develop, and you get better by playing each other by competing. It makes the other one better and better. To start with, the idea is to keep everyone fit and so on, definitely everyone wants to play.

“Training for us, it’s not like time just to prepare or get stronger, it’s about getting better. They can prove themselves in training.

“The good thing with the way Leo and we set out the environment, is everyone will have their opportunities. It’s about being ready and preparing yourself to take them.”

James Ryan’s (calf) fitness will be assessed ahead of Saturday’s Champions Cup clash against Benetton, but Ronan Kelleher (hand) will not make it back in time for the game in Treviso.

Both players are, however, expected to make Ireland’s Six Nations squad, which head coach Andy Farrell will name today.

Johnny Sexton is “looking good and recovering well”, according to Contepomi, in his bid to be fit for Ireland’s first game – against Scotland on February 1.

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