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Saturday 21 October 2017

Fardy: I want to be part of Leinster's rich tradition in Europe

Leinster v Montpellier Live SkySportsAction, KO 1.0

Leinster’s Scott Fardy after the PRO14 victory over Munster at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday. Pic: Sportsfile
Leinster’s Scott Fardy after the PRO14 victory over Munster at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday. Pic: Sportsfile

Scott Fardy crossed a hemisphere to broaden his rugby and life experience at Leinster.

The Wallaby will find out whether the hype of the The Champions Cup is matched by the reality when Montpellier come to The RDS at lunchtime tomorrow, hell-bent on making up for their humiliation there just nine months ago.

"You want to be part of those games," he said.

"They're obviously important, but every game is important within a season.

"Leinster have a fantastic record in Europe and I want to be part of that," he enthused.

There is the journey to the top of the mountain from 1995 to 2009 and there is getting back there after the landscape of the game has changed so dramatically.

This is the sixth season since Leinster's third European Cup triumph in four years.

They have not faded completely out of the big picture.

There has been one quarter-final (2014) and two semi-finals (2015 and 2017) which all died out due to French clubs, Toulon and Clermont-Auvergne.

Montpellier have become the next to invest heavily in French and European glory.

They have done so by following the Toulon template of relying on muscle up front and game managers, like Run Pienaar and Aaron Cruden, in behind.

There does remain the lingering sense that this Montpellier will focus more on the Top-14 than the Champions Cup.

All will be revealed tomorrow when a repeat of January's dose of defeat could cause them to prioritise their domestic League even after just one round.

If you were to pick a one-off game for which Fardy was signed for, this would be right up there.

It would be madness for Leinster to over-engage with the powerful French club in and around the trenches.

Fardy is well-aware of the big hitters from the southern hemisphere that are on Montpellier's roster.

"Yeah, I've played against some of them in Super Rugby," he noted.

"They will be a big challenge in that way. They will put us under pressure. They play a good territory game."

The main focus of the game plan has to be to move Montpellier's heavier men around, tire them out physically and mentally.

This is where Fardy provides the perfect foil to Devin Toner's lineout nous and muddying of the maul.

The athletic, natural blindside makes up for a lack of bulk and height with a savage appetite for covering ground and being a nuisance at the breakdown.

There is also a self-confessed tendency to talk all the time. Communication will not be a problem.

It is imperative that Leinster treasure possession of the ball and, failing that, recover it as quickly as possible.

There was even better news for Leinster in the aftermath of a herculean effort from Fardy against Munster last Saturday.

"I don't think I've played my best yet," he said.

"They are a quality side (Montpellier) and have done really well at the start of the season.

"We are playing at home and we want to be proud of The RDS. That should lift us into a big game."

Fardy, and everyone else, will need to go close to their best to give Leinster the start they so badly need ahead of a completely different test away to Dave Rennie's in-form Glasgow in round two.

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