Monday 26 February 2018

Dads-to-be Toner and Fardy stay at home as Blues jet out

 

Leinster's Devin Toner. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Leinster's Devin Toner. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Leinster touch down in Johannesburg this morning without a slew of senior players after Leo Cullen confirmed that first-choice second-rows Devin Toner and Scott Fardy have remained in Ireland.

Both men's wives are expecting their first child in the coming weeks and have opted not to make the long trip to the southern hemisphere where the province will play the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs in the Guinness PRO14.

Along with Zebre, who face the former Super Rugby teams in reverse, the Irish side are the first side to travel to South Africa and do so without their 2017 Lions and a number of injured players.

Leo Cullen was able to include fit-again Joey Carbery, Jordi Murphy and Dave Kearney but Dan Leavy has been withdrawn after hurting his ankle against Cardiff Blues last Friday - a game that also claimed Rob Kearney who damaged his hamstring.

The province will spend their first night in Johannesburg and train there tomorrow morning, before making their way to Port Elizabeth for their first game on South African soil.

While the two new teams have struggled so far, the PRO14's expansion shows no signs of slowing with chief executive Martin Anayi vowing that an American team is next on his agenda and a German side could follow.

"We have had more than expressions of interest (in the US), we have had real solid business cases that would make it work on the east coast, so it is a question of when, not if," he told the 'London Times'.

"We would be looking to expand again at some stage. We have got to do things differently."

Irish Independent

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