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Saturday 18 November 2017

Fogarty wary of unknown

Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty. Photo: Sportsfile
Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty. Photo: Sportsfile

You might know John Fogarty from his regular appearances as the Leinster half-time entertainment.

It is a modern phenomenon of television that the cameras and microphones are all over the game and under so many noses.

The scrum coach can talk for Ireland and he might even get there some day.

Perhaps, this is why Fogarty is often offered up as their half-time interpreter for what has happened and what needs to be remedied.

It would have been useful to have him front and centre to explain the reasoning behind taking just two hookers in Seán Cronin and James Tracy to South Africa.

Further, there is a shortage of bulk and experience from leaving Devin Toner and Scott Fardy as their respective wives are expecting their first babies imminently.

It is a significant opening for James Ryan and Ross Molony to stake their claims.

Joey Carbery has recovered from his calf injury to be the likely replacement for Rob Kearney given out-halfs Ross Byrne and Cathal Marsh are in the 28-man party.

Around about now, former hooker Fogarty is emerging into the sunshine in South Africa with a strong stock of front row forwards to call on.

The most salient example of Fogarty's impact is the under-appreciated form of Michael Bent last season and at the beginning of this one. This is supported by the impression being made by Ed Byrne, finally free of serious injury, Peter Dooley and Andrew Porter, in his transition to tight-head.

It would be foolhardy to make any presumptions about The Kings, never mind the Cheetahs the following week.

Former Ireland forwards coach Gert Smal and Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus have let it be known that the transformation from playing away to at home is akin to the leap made by French clubs.

Leinster will have to set the trail for all the other Celtic clubs to follow.

"It's a little bit of an unknown for us," cautioned Fogarty.

"We're the first club to go over, so I guess we are preparing for what they have shown.

"When we get there how they approach it we'll see.

"Sometimes you play teams at home and you play them away and it is night and day."

As someone pointed out, Leinster's problems are of the 'first world' variety compared to difficulties encountered by their hosts on the Eastern Cape.

Indeed, the act of leaving their comfort zone, while staying in the same time zone, will be an interesting personal test for each player.

This pales in comparison to the changes forced on The Kings.

They have had their Super Rugby presence wiped out and seen most of their best men move away, abandoning a sinking ship.

The PRO14 has been thrown to them like a life raft.

"We talk about the challenges we've had.

"They have had huge challenges," said Fogarty.

"Coming into this competition, you can understand where they are coming from and how they have to make adjustments.

"I think at home it will feel a lot better for them, sitting at home, preparing at home.

"It's been a tough couple of weeks for them. It really, really has."

It is about to get tougher.

Leinster squad to tour South Africa

Backs (13): I Nacewa (capt), A Byrne, Byrne, J Carbery, B Daly, D Kearney, J Gibson-Park, J Larmour, C Marsh, R O'Loughlin, F McFadden, L McGrath, N Reid;

Forwards (15): M Bent, E Byrne, J Conan, S Cronin, M Deegan, P Dooley, C Healy, M Kearney, R Molony, J Murphy, A Porter, R Ruddock, J Ryan, J Tracy, J van der Flier.

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