Leinster’s liking for wizened southern hemisphere locks has been reaffirmed with the confirmation that Wallaby Scott Fardy will join the province from the Brumbies on what is believed to be a two-year deal at the end of the current Super Rugby campaign.
The province hit pay dirt in the past with Scotland’s Australian-born Nathan Hines and former All Black Brad Thorn, both of whom proved to be major additions to the squad and who ended their respective times in Dublin with Heineken Cup medals in their pockets.
“It’s still a big year ahead at the Brumbies and I’m looking forward to the season ahead in Canberra,” Fardy has told the Canberra Times. “I’m also excited about the chance to join Leinster next season. But I’ve got a lot that I want to achieve at the Brumbies and it should be a great year with the boys.”
The new Super Rugby regular season stretches through to mid-July with the final on August 5. The Brumbies have made the knockout phase four years in a row but have been bowing out at an earlier stage with almost each passing campaign since making the Grand Final in 2013.
The Australian side opened the 2017 campaign with a 17-13 loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend and, with the likes of Stephen Moore, David Pocock, Matt Toomua and Joe Tomane all absent from this year’s roster, it may be that Leinster see Fardy well before August kicks in.
Fardy turns 33 at the start of July but he has a reputation as a tough nut and as a player who has often spilled his own blood for his teams’ causes. It is just over 12 months now since he turned up for training with the Brumbies less than 24 hours after being involved in a serious car crash.
Old in rugby terms, he is young enough in game time given he was overlooked by the Waratahs for an academy spot, unrated by the Western Force and spent three years playing in Japan before former assistant Munster coach Laurie Fisher gave him a belated chance at the age of 27.
Fardy has since played 39 times for Australia, including once against Ireland. Heralded as an excellent blindside flanker, where he has spent most of his career, he has also featured in the second row where he will be deployed by a Leinster side that is already overstocked for back rows.
“Scott goes with our blessing, he’s been a great asset to the organisation,” Brumbies chief executive Michael Thomson was quoted as saying. “We wish him the best overseas and who knows, he may even come back one day.”
Meanwhile, Ireland’s hopes of seeing off Wales and moving a step closer to a third Six Nations title in four years have been bolstered by the news that Ulster’s Jared Payne has been added to the squad for the last two rounds of the competition.
Leinster’s Joey Carbery has also been included on a 36-man panel after recent injury, though most interest will be on Payne who is more likely to see action given his ability to cover at centre and at full-back.
The 31-year old Payne featured for Ulster for 20 minutes off the bench against Zebre in Italy last week after a three-month lay-off caused by a serious kidney injury suffered against Australia last November.
Used as an outside-centre for Ireland, Payne may well have a role at 15 in the coming weeks given Joe Schmidt’s main injury concern right now is Rob Kearney (groin) who is also in the named selection.
Kearney was due to undergo a scan early this week but, with the squad not reconvening until Saturday again, it will be early next week before definitive word on the Leinster man’s well-being.
R Best (Ulster, capt), J Conan (Leinster), U Dillane (Connacht) T Furlong, C Healy, J Heaslip (all Leinster), I Henderson (Ulster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), J McGrath, S O’Brien (both Leinster), T O’Donnell (Munster), P O’Mahony (Munster), Q Roux, (Connacht), D Ryan, J Ryan, N Scannell, CJ Stander (all Munster), D Toner, James Tracy (both Leinster).
J Carbery (Leinster), A Conway, K Earls (both Munster), C Gilroy (Ulster), R Henshaw (Leinster), P Jackson (Ulster), R Kearney (Leinster), K Marmion (Connacht), L Marshall (Ulster), L McGrath (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), T O’Halloran (Connacht), J Payne (Ulster), G Ringrose, J Sexton (both Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster), S Zebo (Munster).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved