Tuesday 18 December 2018

Six Leinster academy stars who are on course to make their mark for Leo Cullen's side

Josh Murphy is making waves as a Leinster player but is also studying medicine.
Josh Murphy is making waves as a Leinster player but is also studying medicine.

Des Berry

The Leinster conveyor belt has been rolling along, popping out international prospects at a rate of knots.

There good news for the Blues is that there is still more to come your way.

The revelation that Jordan Larmour has been signed to a senior contract on the basis of six sensational months shows how quickly the game can change.

Okay, the 20-year-old is an exception to the general rule in place that, for the most part, encapsulates one year in the sub-academy and three years in the academy.

The pre-emptive promotion of James Ryan, Andrew Porter and Max Deegan to senior status last year shows a trend towards tying up those who make the right impression.

While there are other legitimate Leinster potential professionals of the future, like centre Gavin Mullin and utility back Jack Kelly, in the pipeline, this is a half-dozen candidates to make the senior grade on time or before it. 


Academy: Year-3

Position: Blindside

School: St Michael’s College

A senior contract offer and acceptance must be only a matter of time for the flanker.

The UCD student has managed to combine breaking into the congested Leinster back row with the stress of studying medicine.

Twenty-two years old Murphy is a different option at 6’5” in terms of what he can bring to the lineout allied to his work rate.     

He made his Leinster debut with a short cameo against Glasgow and followed that up with two 80-minute hit-outs against the Dragons and Ulster.


Academy: Year-1

Position: Number eight

School: Blackrock College

This is the safest bet in the game since Arkle was around, according to many inside and outside Leinster.

A cruel hamstring tear has ruled the 19-year-old out of what would have been his second U20 Six Nations.

The World Cup in June set as his target for a return to a position in which Leinster are long on options.          


Academy: Year-1

Position: Outside centre/Wing

School: Blackrock College

The latest ‘Rock Boy’ to appear in the number 13 shirt has been voted by his peers to captain the Ireland U20s. 

“He brings a lot of credibility from a playing perspective,” said coach Noel McNamara about O’Brien’s appointment.

“Tommy has a superb attitude towards continually working on and improving, not only the areas he’s deficient on, but also on his strengths. I think that’s something that we would value quite highly, that quality and that chasing getting better.”

There is still some debate about where he will end up playing, with full-back even possible. .


Academy: Year-1

Position: Scrum-half

School: Belvedere College

The winner of two Leinster Schools Senior Cups was central to  Belvo’s game plan from full-back.

He bypassed the sub-academy in what can only be interpreted as an opinion that he will be ready to take the next step sooner rather than later.

However, the passing has to be a top priority given the Meathman hasn’t played scrum-half in the last two years

His point of difference is his rugby intelligence as one who rarely makes the wrong decision in a position pivotal to making the right choices.


Academy: Year-1

Position: Hooker

School: St Michael’s College

The long-lauded Ireland U20, in his second season, will be 20 years old tomorrow.

He had always been rated higher than Tadgh McElroy – he left for Saracens last season – within Leinster.

The younger brother of Connacht’s Cian is the prototypical modern hooker for his explosive carrying game and athleticism about the field.

He has already knuckled down to fine-tuning his lineout throwing.


Academy: Year-3.

Position: Inside Centre.

School: Newbridge College.

This is ‘the sleeper’ in the crew as an under-sized man in the midfield.

He has yet to make his Leinster debut as a succession of minor injuries and concentration on the Irish Sevens have checked his progress in the 15-man game.

The 21-year-old is the owner of a cracking left foot, fine footwork and a passing game from his schoolboy days at out-half which is complemented by a physical approach to defence.

He has been mentioned in dispatches by the likes of club captain Isa Nacewa as one to watch. He will be due an upgrade to a development contract at the end of the season.

Online Editors

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