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'We're not in the business of hoarding players, we're here to develop players'

Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty says neither Ross Byrne or Joey Carbery will be forced to leave the province against their will.

LEINSTER ARE NOW facing into the reality of losing one of their home-grown out-halves this summer, but John Fogarty insists neither Ross Byrne or Joey Carbery will be forced to move to Ulster against their will.

Joey Carbery Carbery has played most of the season at fullback for Leinster. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

According to Peter O’Reilly of The Sunday Times, the IRFU performance director David Nucifora and Joe Schmidt have asked Leinster head coach Leo Cullen to decide which of the two players he will release in order to bolster Ulster’s threadbare resources in the pivot position.

With both Byrne and Carbery, as well as academy prospect Ciaran Frawley, playing understudy to Johnny Sexton at Leinster, Nucifora sees the logjam at the eastern province as the solution to the out-half headache at Ulster.

Although both players have previously expressed their desire to remain at their home province, Schmidt is also likely to be keen for 10-time capped Carbery to get more game time ahead of next year’s World Cup in Japan, with the 22-year-old starting just once at out-half for Leinster this season.

Speaking at Leinster’s UCD headquarters this afternoon, scrum coach Fogarty said there is no ‘annoyance’ over the IRFU’s intervention, adding that they must always do what’s best for a player’s development.

“No there’s no annoyance,” Fogarty said. “There’s certainly no annoyance. The way it would work, there would be regular meetings with Leo and Joe and David to discuss the playing group for ourselves and Ireland. They’ll be meeting probably this week at some stage or it could be next week.

“The player will ultimately decide what he wants to do. We’re not in the business of hoarding players here, we look at the overall group and see if we have game time for that player and see how we can help them develop.

“That’s kind of it, if he can’t or we see that we can’t keep a player moving forward, and it happens, we’ll then have the discussion with the player of the IRFU. That’s when that sort of stuff happens.

“Tadhg Beirne is a really good example for us. We would have sat down as a coaching group and said ‘jeez, this is a good player, but we haven’t got enough game time for him, he’s a quality player’. That’s when the decisions are made, certainly in here, and we’ll look at that situation and say right it’s time for that player to go.

“We don’t want to be holding players for the sake of holding players, we’re here to develop the players.”

Ross Byrne takes a penalty Byrne signed his first senior contract with Leinster last year. Source: Alex Davidson/INPHO

22-year-old Carbery, who was handed a Leinster senior contract last summer after coming through the province’s famed academy system, has featured 11 times for the province this season, but missed three months with an arm injury sustained against Fiji during the November internationals.

With Sexton first-choice at both club and country, the majority of Carbery’s minutes in blue have been in the fullback position, with the Pro14 defeat to Benetton a fortnight ago his only start for Leinster at out-half this term.

Byrne, meanwhile, has deputised for Sexton throughout the course of this season, making 24 appearances across both competitions, and his form has reduced the opportunities for Carbery at out-half.

Fogarty stressed neither will be backed into a corner and told to move to Belfast.

“The player will always have a choice,” he added. “The player will always decide what he wants to do, again like I said we’re not going to push a player. A player has got to decide where he wants to play the game.

“I’m not aware of any situation where anyone has been backed into a corner, I’m not aware of anything at this moment in time. I’m probably the wrong coach to be talking to, Leo would probably give a more definitive answer on all this.

“There’s regular meetings to discuss the playing group. Ultimately we’re trying to make the players successful for us here and Ireland as well. We’re very much close on that one.”

It seems Leinster are victims of their own success in this regard, with the onus now on the province to sacrifice one of their young players to replace Paddy Jackson at Ulster.

It has already been confirmed that Jordi Murphy will leave for Kingspan Stadium at the end of the current season, while Leinster natives John Cooney, Alan O’Connor and Nick Timoney are all already on the books at Ulster, with another, Marty Moore, joining from Wasps.

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Ryan Bailey

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