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'He's going to be a great loss' - Leo Cullen hails Fergus McFadden after decision to retire when season concludes

Leinster back hailed as 'an amazing contributor' by head coach Leo Cullen

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Fergus McFadden. Photo: Sportsfile

Fergus McFadden. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Fergus McFadden. Photo: Sportsfile

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen has paid a glowing tribute to Fergus McFadden after the veteran back confirmed that he will retire at the end of the season.

The 33-year old is facing the very real possibility that he has played his final game for his home province, as rugby continues to be put on hold due to Covid-19.

McFadden's contract will expire at the end of the season, and depending on what is decided over a potential return to play, he may not get the fitting farewell that his career would deserve.

The Kildare native will hang up his boots as a one-club man, having played 184 times for Leinster, as well as winning 34 Ireland caps across a successful 13-year career.

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McFadden contributed on the biggest days including the 2011 and 2012 Heineken Cup final wins, the 2013 Challenge Cup final, as well as the 2013 and 2014 PRO12 finals. He was also a key member of the Leinster double-winning season in 2018.

Cullen, who both played and coached McFadden throughout his time with Leinster, hailed his contribution on and off the pitch.

“Fergus has been an amazing contributor to lots of great things that have taken place in Leinster and Irish rugby and he’s definitely one of the great characters that we’ve had around in the group,” Cullen said.

“The versatility piece that Fergus has is hugely important. It can go against some players and tough calls not going their way but he would always do what’s best for the team.

“For example, even though typically your ten would take kicks, Fergus had no problem stepping up at crucial moments to take the pressure off someone. He had so many strings to his bow and he’s going to be a great loss to the group.

“We are being guided by public health guidelines at the moment but naturally the hope is that Fergus gets the chance to pull on the Leinster jersey again.”

McFadden scored 10 tries in his 34 caps with Ireland. He featured at the 2011 World Cup, while he was also part of the Six Nations winning squads in 2014 and 2018.

“They say the best time to leave a party is when you’re still having fun so the time has come for me to announce my retirement from the end of the season,” McFadden said in a statement.

“It’s hard to put into words what a privilege it has been to have had such a long career playing for the team I grew up supporting and pulling on a green jersey to play for my country. It has been a dream come true.

“So, reflecting on what made this all possible, I would like to thank all the Leinster Rugby staff, Leo Cullen, the wider management team, medics, physios, strength & conditioning coaches, backroom staff and our legendary bagman Johnny O’Hagan. Leinster’s incredible success over many years has been as a result of the contributions of the entire team both on and off the field.

“To the players, there are too many for me to name individually right now but all I can say is that it has been an honour to play and work alongside such incredibly talented and professional people.

"The friendships and memories I have made are ones I will cherish for the rest of my life – not to mention the many laughs we had along the way.

“To the Leinster fans…I don’t think you could ask for better supporters. Your constant support and encouragement was felt throughout – not only there to celebrate the highs but also to support through the lows.

“To my wife Rebecca, my son Freddy, my parents, my friends and family, thanks for being there every step of the way.”

Online Editors