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Nucifora 'the main man' for Irish deals

Jonathan Sexton is on his way back.

Rob Kearney has just signed a three-year deal at Leinster. Tommy Bowe has done the same at Ulster.

Ireland are the Six Nations champions. They have just beaten South Africa for the first time in five years, but just three test matches. What could possibly go wrong from here?

When the IRFU's Performance Director, David Nucifora, came to Ireland, there was a lot of uncertainty over where he exactly he could make those marginal gains so beloved by Joe Schmidt.

Well, his close working relationship with the New Zealander was first seen to positive effect when he appeared at the Women's World Cup near Paris sitting close to Schmidt and Sexton.

The coup of bringing the 2014 IRB World Player of the Year nominee back to Leinster next year set a standard of practice Kearney was keen to play on two days ago.


The full-back announced his decision to stay and made a point out of praising the process, the straight-forward manner of discussions and the fact Sexton was coming home.

Now, Bowe, previously tempted away to the Ospreys, has given his imprimatur as Nucifora heads up a policy of longer-term contracts for Ireland's senior internationals.

"We are delighted that Tommy has committed his future to Ulster and Ireland for the next three years," said Nucifora. "Tommy has proven his value to Irish rugby over the years with stand-out performances for both Ulster and Ireland."

It was Mike Ross who zeroed in on Nucifora's presence as important in that the prop is dealing with one individual rather than the IRFU, whatever that may mean.

"You're dealing with one person now, it seems to be. David Nucifora is the main man," he said. "He handles that sort of thing. So that simplifies matters a bit. I'm probably talking earlier than I would have been in previous seasons. They've taken stuff from previous years on board and I think it's for the better."