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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Is Fardy missing piece in puzzle?

Elsom, Hines, Thorn and now Fardy

Leinster’s Scott Fardy in action against Exeter Chiefs during last Saturday’s Champions Cup Pool 3 encounter at the Aviva Stadium. Pic: Sportsfile
Leinster’s Scott Fardy in action against Exeter Chiefs during last Saturday’s Champions Cup Pool 3 encounter at the Aviva Stadium. Pic: Sportsfile

Isa Nacewa stands alone as the best overseas signing Leinster has ever made.

No doubt. No debate. No contest.

It is a tad trite to even try to rate the men from overseas as how they change the culture, and what they add to it, is mostly through things that happen away from the public eye.

Then again, there are the Leinster men, who have gone away and come back, that have contributed much to the growth of what was once a sleeping, dribbling giant.

For instance, current head coach Leo Cullen and former flanker Shane Jennings were at the heart of Leinster's transformation from fragile to unbreakable men after they spent the same two years at Leicester Tigers (2005-2007), working with warriors like Martin Johnson and Martin Corry.

Gruelling

There is also the credit due to the employment of Michael Cheika (2005-2010) for five years of gruelling, week-on-week dedication to alter Leinster's way of playing and failing.

This is where Joe Schmidt entered the province (2010-2013) to add the finer details from his technical knowledge and dissection of the weaknesses of the opposition.

These days, Leinster have two New Zealanders on their books, Jamison Gibson-Park and James Lowe, signed as project players, free to declare their interest to play for Ireland after three years.

Then, you have the Wallaby Scott Fardy, a proven international player with the ability and agility to roam between the middle and back-rows. He follows in the footsteps of three men that were central to earning the three stars, symbolising the European Cups, on the Leinster shirt.

First, the explosive nature of loose forward Rocky Elsom was the tipping point in Leinster's initial Heineken Cup in 2009.

Second, Australian-born, Scotland second-row Nathan Hines was the devilishly difficult engine room stoker in 'The Miracle' comeback against Northampton in 2011.

Third, Brad Thorn, signed on a three-month contract, was the anchor for a third trophy in four seasons against provincial rivals Ulster in Twickenham.

You get the distinct impression that supporters of Super Rugby would have turned off the televisions around about the time Leinster were halfway through their 44 painstaking phases of possession that yielded the decisive try against Exeter at Sandy Park the week before last.

"We weren't going far either," smiled Fardy.

"We were going back and forward.

"That was the way defended and they changed the way they defended in the second game.

"They went harder at the ruck and afforded a different picture there for us.

"Probably more so it was a bit of chess between both sides. you know."

Like those who have come before him, Fardy is fuelled by the adrenalin ruch of winning silverware.

There is the admission of feeling unfulfilled around the number of medals on his cirriculum vitae from his years in the professional game.

"Yeah, I think everybody should always want to win more - shouldn't they? - as any player would want to win more," he shared.

"Those are the kind of guys you want to play with and the guys in this club want to win more things."

It was a major reason behind his decision to come to Leinster when there were surely greater financial rewards elsewhere in France.

Experience

"I wanted to come overseas. I wanted to experience playing European rugby," he said.

"Ideally, that would be with a club playing at the business end. Leinster have proven they can get to the business end every year and have the squad to do so.

"I wanted to enjoy my rugby. Money is not everything to me. Put it that way.

"If this is the twilight of my career, I want to enjoy it and I want to win things," he said.

"I don't want to go somewhere and just play. I want to go to a place and win.

"That's important to me.

"I'm just one piece in a big puzzle here, probably not the biggest piece," he said.

He doesn't have to be. He just has to keep on doing what he has been doing.

It was always enough for Elsom, Hines and Thorn.

Fardy has already shown what a shrewd signing this has been for Leinster.

Can Fardy be the missing piece in the puzzle The Champions Cup has become to Leinster?

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