European Cup demise could cause Irish talent drain, warns Reddan
EOIN REDDAN describes the Heineken Cup as "the biggest thing" in his career and believes that its demise would lead to a player-drain out of Ireland.
"If another competition became the premier event in Europe and we weren't a part of that, then it would be a huge risk," said the Leinster and Ireland scrum-half.
"At the moment, you're hoping there will be a Heineken Cup. I can't see a world without the Heineken Cup – and I don't want to think about it.
"I don't think it would be good for anyone for the Heineken Cup to disappear. It is the premier competition for every club player in Europe and everyone loses if it is done away with."
Reddan (right), who has won the competition three times – once with Wasps and twice with Leinster – has been encouraged by the recent developments that have given rise to hopes of a resolution to the impasse.
"We don't know the finer details of the negotiations, but what is encouraging is that everyone agrees that we want a European competition with all the best teams in it," he said.
The 32-year-old feels that whatever happens after this season, any competition must include teams from the perceived weaker nations like Italy and, to a lesser extent, Scotland.
"It's not a European competition if you exclude teams from other European countries. Italian teams aren't the strongest in the competition at the moment, but they might be in 10 years' time. The same for teams from Scotland," said Reddan as he dismissed any suggestion that some teams should be sacrificed in order to include more clubs from England and France.
Reddan won his first Heineken Cup medal (2007) as well a Premiership title (2008) during his time with Wasps and is adamant players in England place as much importance on the European competition as those in Ireland do.
The hype behind the Premiership, he believes, has more to do with media influence than anything else.
"The Premiership is thought of more highly by the English media and public than the Pro12 is over here. For the players, though, the Heineken Cup is certainly the more important for them," he said.
"You do have the feeling that in the end the right decision will be made by those in the negotiations.
"When something makes so much sense you'd hope the people in the room get it over the line. We all love playing in the Heineken Cup and want to continue."
Meanwhile, former Australia wing Lote Tuqiri has arrived in Ireland and is being put through a medical as Leinster wait for a work permit to come through.
Tuqiri has not trained with the team yet – "he's been doing stuff on his own," explained forwards coach Jono Gibbes – but is expected to join up with them early next week.
Gibbes also appeared to rule out any possibility of the 33-year-old rugby league convert being kept on longer than the reported three months.
"I wouldn't think that's a possibility. He's here on a short-term deal," he said.
Tomorrow, Leinster host Ospreys in a fixture described by Reddan as "probably the biggest league game of the year outside the local derbies" tomorrow.
Luke Fitzgerald is expected to be available after a slight muscle strain, but Fergus McFadden is unlikely to have recovered from a hamstring injury.
Prop Michael Bent is still a number of weeks away from being fit.