Monday 22 January 2018

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt slams ‘false’ Connacht targeting claims

Joe Schmidt
Joe Schmidt

LEINSTER head coach Joe Schmidt has slammed claims that the province have poached Connacht's best players in the wake of the controversy over second row Mike McCarthy’s transfer.

Connacht CEO Tom Sears was critical of Leinster when it was revealed that international second-row McCarthy would be transferring to the European champions at the end of the season.

“I know he used the word disappointed a lot,” said Schmidt. “I'm pretty disappointed in the way that misinformation has been passed around.”

“To claim that we persistently pursued Mike McCarthy is just false. We have not persistently pursued Mike at all.

“I know that if you contact the IRFU, they will say we abided by all protocols and those protocols, set down, are very, very clear. Mike almost came to Leinster two years ago. He was very much on the cusp of doing that.

“I’m massively disappointed because we’ve done everything by the book. Mike is certainly not the only player to express an interest to come to Leinster. I mean that’s a natural thing, to a degree, where there is one team that is consistently performing at the top end.”

After McCarthy’s transfer was revealed, Sears said: “We have been aware of Leinster's interest in Mike for some time. It is disappointing they have persistently targeted Connacht players in recent years, particularly when often not in the best interest of Irish rugby.”

Leinster face Clermont-Auvergne in the Heineken Cup on Saturday in the Aviva.

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