Scott Fardy will not be a hostage to fortune.
He refuses to pinpoint an age or a date when he might hang up his boots for fear that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Australian is happy to take rugby as it comes for now. It’s why he penned just the one-year contract extension with Leinster last season.
It’s understandable in the sense that he will be 36 just days after the current season ends but this is a player who didn’t play elite rugby until he was 28. His Wallaby debut came a year later. He is a lightly run racehorse with a good injury profile. He is far from finished.
“I don’t know whose decision it was to make it one (year). I think I just said ‘let’s just do one and take it as it comes’. When you come to my age you don’t want to let anyone down. I just want to keep playing and see how I’m progressing in the early parts of the season and into the new year,” says Fardy.
“I didn’t want to be in a situation where you are struggling physically and you still have another year to go.
“It wasn’t about the finance of the thing, it was more about where my head would be at some stage in the future.”
Fardy’s wife, Penelope Austin, was a successful and well-travelled singer-songwriter back home in Australia. He had spent three years playing in Japan in his twenties. But he gives the impression of a man and a couple happy in their surroundings here in Dublin where they have started a family.
He makes the point that their son August has only spent a handful of weeks in Australia so far. Dublin, basically, is home for now and both Fardy and his wife will tell you that he likes to stay at home a lot. All of which sounds like good news for Leinster.
He has played 49 times already across less than two-and-a-half seasons with the province and is experienced and versatile. Leo Cullen joked this week that he can play anywhere between 4 and 8, and, with his test career behind him, he is available all-season long.
That’s particularly handy in a World Cup season when the club has had to blood so many young players in the early rounds of the league and the established locals are returning from Japan with the disappointment of their efforts in the tournament still hanging over them.
Fardy remembers his own decompression after the 2015 World Cup. He had months to recover before reporting for Super Rugby duties. Leinster’s Irish brigade managed a couple of weeks R&R before being thrust straight back into the maelstrom of a European campaign.
“I was on the drink for two months, I think.”
Knowing when to turn off is an underrated trait but Fardy doesn’t seem the type to shut off at Leinster. His performances on the pitch have been invariably excellent but Cullen has also raved about the link he provides between the coaching staff and the player group.
“He has been great in the environment and as a mentor, particularly with us having a lot of younger players coming through, that they have some level of guidance and understanding,” explained Cullen.
And maybe even to strip away some of the messages that the coaches give and go, ‘right, just concentrate on this and this and the other things will fall into place for you’.
All going well, it would be inconceivable that Leinster wouldn’t want him to hang around for at least a fourth season but there are more variables than just the wishes of player and club to account for when it comes to non-Irish contracts.
The IRFU’s David Nucifora is the man who must give the thumbs up or thumbs down to each and every deal. Chief among the considerations is the need to ensure there aren’t too many non-Irish qualified players clogging up any one position for young prospects.
It will be interesting to see if Munster’s capture of RG Snyman from next year on has a knock-on effect in this instance.
Cullen claims to have little or no interest in what the other provinces are doing in that regard and Leinster do have scope for more foreigners.
Jamison Gibson-Park is already Irish-qualified and James Lowe will follow soon enough. That will leave just Fardy and Joe Tomane as their only non-Irish squad members and Cullen is acutely aware of the value in bringing in positive influence and big talents from elsewhere.
“It is still important to get some of that outside influence. Predominantly we want to bring in mostly our own guys.
That’s the model but every now and again we look at players and think, ‘he can add something to this group’. It’s always worth having the conversation at least.
Fardy seems open to that.