Run the rule over the best imports to have featured for the provinces down the years and it makes for a diverse cast of characters. Some arrived with the world-class tag long since bestowed on them. Others have made landfall here with less expectation on their shoulders but left with reputations enhanced.
No area of the pitch has been left untouched by these hired hands and maybe the one attribute that has linked them all is an absence of grandeur and work ethic that allows them to blend into a locker room of locals. Scott Fardy is of that mould.
A blindside flanker with Australia when they faced New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup final, he has been used mostly in the second row at Leinster. Whatever the job, he does it without fuss. That holds even on days like last Saturday when he moved down the chain to the bench for the Guinness PRO14 semi-final against Munster as part of Leinster’s rotation policy and in the wake of his role in the Champions Cup decider.
A hard one to swallow?
You can’t complain when you are on the bench because you are still part of the squad that week.
"There are a lot of guys not playing this week who have put in a huge amount of effort to put us where we are now. There are guys who have played nearly every game in the PRO14 and more than likely won’t run out this week. So you never complain about what part you play in a game.”
Fardy’s input has been lauded on and off the pitch at Leinster, his willingness to coach and mentor the younger generation an added bonus from a guy who was nominated for European player of the year last season. Rob Kearney hinted James Ryan wouldn’t have blossomed into the player he is without Fardy’s guiding hand and he had acquired the nickname ‘Saturday’ for his penchant to keep training to a minimum and explode on game day.
“You know you’ve been accepted when the jokes start flying at your expense. No-one treats me like an overseas player here. I don’t feel different to anyone else. If someone is playing better than me, they get picked ahead of me. That’s the way it is when you play here.”
That integration, from newbie to part of the furniture, has involved branches far removed from the rugby tree. Fardy was spotted at Parnell Park on Sunday for the Leinster hurling championship game between Dublin and Wexford.
Alongside him were Tadhg Furlong and Jack McGrath, men with allegiances in the opposing county camps. Fardy’s colours were nailed firmly to the mast thanks to the Wexford training top he sported.
Furlong have him that and, while disappointed at Dublin’s late equalising goal, he found some mirth in the fact that the game had ended all square.
“I went to the Clare-Galway semi-final last year in Croke Park. That went to a replay so I haven’t seen a win or a loss yet!” he laughed.
“I can appreciate the skill level. I just can’t believe Tadhgie used to run around with them! I love the crowd, I love how passionate they are about the game. It was the same when I went to Croke Park with guys screaming out.”
The weekend to come may yet provide him with another insight into another corner of the Irish sporting psyche given Leinster face Glasgow Warriors at Celtic Park where generations of fans have flocked from these shores. A Liverpool fan, Fardy is well aware of some of the Australian links with Celtic down the years. Former striker Mark Viduka and current midfielder Tom Rogic were mentioned so ‘Paradise’ will need no introduction come Saturday.
Fardy has been so good for Leinster that he was talked up here as a live option for Australia for the World Cup, but that would have required a move back home to Super Rugby under Wallaby eligibility rules. Signing a new contract, which will take him through to the summer of 2020, ended that debate. There isn’t a soul at Leinster who doesn’t appreciate how lucky they are to have him.