Friday 25 May 2018

Fardy determined to be part of Leinster's 'proud history'

Scott Fardy during Leinster squad training at UCD, Belfield, in Dublin. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Scott Fardy during Leinster squad training at UCD, Belfield, in Dublin. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The conversation with Michael Cheika was short and sweet and while Scott Fardy wasn't looking for his seal of approval, he already knew how fondly the Wallabies boss spoke of his time at Leinster.

Australia's stance on picking overseas players isn't always as strict as Ireland's but, understandably, the ARU, like the IRFU, want their best players to remain at home.

Fardy's move to Leinster means that he may not add to the 39 caps that he has won and for a late bloomer, that is disappointing.

At 33, Fardy still has plenty to offer. He is expected to have a big impact during his two years in Ireland and from speaking to his new team-mates, it is clear that he has wasted little time in settling in.

Passionately

"No, no, I just told him I was going there, I said I'm going and that was about it," he says of that chat with Cheika, who spent five years with Leinster.

"I think he was happy that I was going to a club that he was part of and had success with. From playing under him, he talks passionately about Leinster and his time here and the people of Dublin."

Similar to the likes of Seán O'Brien, Devin Toner and Tadhg Furlong, Fardy didn't come through the traditional schools route back home in Australia.

Despite making his international debut as a 29-year-old four years ago, Fardy had become a vital cog in Wallabies pack before he decided to seek a new challenge in Europe.

It hasn't been an easy journey to get to here however. Having struggled to get his break in Australia, he joined a Japanese second division team in 2009 for three years, which proved invaluable.

His meandering path would lead him back to Canberra where he established himself with the Brumbies before breaking into the international set-up.

"I guess I didn't come through the normal avenues in Australia," Fardy explains.

"I was a public schoolboy, not a private school kind of player. I played a lot of club rugby and worked my way up through the system that way so it was a bit of an old-school journey.

"The vast majority of professional players have played in private schools in Australia. Whether that's the best place to find talent, I'm not sure."

He may only have just settled in his new surrounds but Fardy is already feeling at home, even if the dynamic of Leinster's squad is quite different to what he has grown accustomed to.

"I guess what you've got here is guys born within 100 kilometres of each other, they come from singular backgrounds," he maintains.

"When you play in Australia, you've got guys from Fiji, New Zealand, Papa New Guinea, south Brisbane, western Sydney, all these other parts of Australia, and then they're mixed up from guys with private school backgrounds and some guys are farmers. So it's a complete mix of players.

"Some guys who are really talented, they come from different backgrounds and it makes them who they are as a player, it gives them that fight and personality that they have some indiscretions in their time as well.

"I wasn't part of too many in my time there, I haven't seen that much stuff. I wasn't a big drinker or a big party-goer but the range of guys in the Australian team is quite different to what you get in the Leinster and Ireland team."

Given that Fardy has largely made a name for himself playing at blindside flanker, Leinster's embarrassment of riches in the back-row saw a few eyebrows raised when they were allowed to sign him but he has arrived as a lock - a position that is by no means alien to him.

"I played a lot of rugby at six but I've also played a lot at lock before that - my first two seasons with the Brumbies, I played exclusively at lock," he recalls.

"It has got a different kind of feel to the game, you've got to play a different way but it's something that I really enjoy.

"I think playing lock is something that I enjoy as I get older. I don't have to be as quick as playing six. I can get into the middle of the park and do a bit of the contact stuff."

The likes of Brad Thorn and Nathan Hines left a lasting impression on Leinster during their brief stints with the club and Fardy is hoping to do something similar.

"I think it's what I've already done in my career, I think that's what Leinster want from me, to play like I normally play and play to the best of my abilities, week in, week out," he adds.

"I don't think I have to change anything or be like someone I'm not, I just have to play the best I can and hopefully that rubs off on other players.

"Obviously the proud history in Leinster, they have the ability to win trophies and you see the names on the team-sheet that have done it before.

"I'd like to be part of something like that as well."

Irish Independent

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