Once domiciled in London, Eoin Reddan will make his way home to Limerick this weekend to face Munster and, in all probability, Tomás O’Leary who is due to decamp to the English capital come the summer.
Such are the complexities of professional rugby players’ lives, and O’Leary picked Reddan’s brains on life across the water whilst on duty with the Irish national team that ended its Six Nations campaign with a defeat to England in, where else, but London.
“We spoke a few times, but Tomás knows his own mind and I wouldn’t be saying I gave him advice or anything,” said Reddan who was promoting new sports facilities at John Scottus National School in Dublin where his wife, Aoife, works.
“He would have asked about London and that sort of thing and it is a good spot, especially when you’re playing rugby over there. He will enjoy it, he will work hard and hopefully it goes well for him. I think it is good for him.
“He is a great player. He feels his best opportunity at the moment is with London Irish. They’re a good club. He will enjoy the Premiership, it is week in, week out. It is quite full on and he will enjoy the competitiveness of that.”
Professional rugby may be a growth sector here but it is still inhabited by a small circle and players are usually in the know long before the public. That said, Peter Stringer’s decision to sign a new one-year deal with Munster came as a surprise to his Leinster counterpart. Who can blame him? With Thomond Park to visit this Saturday and Cardiff coming to the Stadium for a Heineken Cup quarter-final a week later, there is more than enough to keep a man occupied as the season reaches what he admits is its tipping point.
All the more strange, then, that Leinster approach this juncture without the signature of Luke Fitzgerald stashed safely away for another few seasons. Instead, there are rumours of a contract impasse, reduced financial terms and a possible switch to London Irish with O’Leary. Frankie Sheahan negotiated a few contracts of his own with the IRFU through the years and says he always found the union fair. Yesterday Sheahan said he would be surprised if Fitzgerald is allowed leave.
“There’s no doubt the IRFU have cut back on salaries,” he said. “I can understand both sides of it. For a player, when your employer is cutting your wages, it’s a hard thing to stomach. He hasn’t been playing as much as he’d like to and he didn’t make the World Cup squad, although personally I thought he should have. The IRFU have to make decisions, it’s not easy. I’m sure guys like Luke would get three or four times the amount over in France but you just can’t compete with that.”
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