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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 13 December, 2019
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'I'm not a wandering spirit at all'

Life in Dublin is ticking all the boxes for Leinster’s Scott Fardy.

Former Australia international Scott Fardy
Former Australia international Scott Fardy
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

SCOTT FARDY’S WIFE may be a country singer, but the versatile Leinster flanker insists he is no rambling man.

It may appear a contradictory statement. While he has only represented a handful of clubs in his long career, rugby has taken him from Australia to Japan and back again before the life-changing move to join Leinster in 2017.

The good news for supporters of the province is that Fardy hasn’t felt bitten by the travel bug lately.

“I’m actually a bit of a crab, I’m a Cancer, so I actually like to stay at home a lot,” he says.

“That’s what my wife says. I’m not a wandering spirit at all. I was at the Brumbies for that time [2012-17]. I was in Japan for three years [2009-12] which is longer than a lot of guys do there. I like home life, my family is very comfortable here in Dublin, we enjoy the set-up here at the moment. Life has changed a lot coming here. We really enjoy it. I have no real interest in going around the world too much.”

It also helps that Fardy quickly established himself as part of the furniture at Leinster. Signed in 2017 to help push the province on in Europe, his role has developed over the course of his two seasons in blue. The retirement of Isa Nacewa opened up a space for a seasoned overseas leader in the Leinster squad, someone who could step up and provide the focal point when the Ireland players were away on international duty.

While Fardy certainly played his part in Leinster’s 2018 Champions Cup win, he has proven equally valuable on the more low-key Guinness Pro14 trips away to Italy and South Africa. He played a total of 22 games for the province last season, and was captain of the young squad that embarked on a pre-season trip to play Canada this summer.

His ability to cover a number of positions across the pack also gave him a handy advantage in the three-into-two battle against James Lowe and Jamison Gibson-Park in the Champions Cup. That rule won’t be as problematic for Leinster this season, with Gibson-Park now Ireland qualified. Lowe will qualify next November.

jamison-gibson-park-james-lowe-and-scott-fardy-after-the-game Jamison Gibson-Park, James Lowe and Scott Fardy. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Capped 39 times by Australia, Fardy’s international days are firmly behind him. He is now on his second contract with Leinster, having signed a one year extension to his original two-year deal at the province, keeping him at the RDS until the end of the season. He will turn 36 next summer, but has no expectations of when he will walk away from the game.

“There’s no number, I think if you put a number in your head, that’s where you’ll go to,” he explains.

“I’m not desiring to play forever, I know there’s an end date on when you play. Every guy is different. I had a period at the start of my career when I was in Japan when I wasn’t getting bashed around. You look at a guy making Test debuts at 21 or 22, I didn’t do that. I didn’t debut in Test rugby until I was 29. In terms of life in my legs, I’m feeling pretty good compared to what other guys might be going through.

“But you look at Thorny [Brad Thorn] who played from when he was 19. Every guy is different and goes through different careers and longevities but I feel pretty good at the moment.”

It is clear that he remains a central part of Leo Cullen’s thinking, even if the decision to extend his contract by just one year raised some eyebrows.

“I don’t know whose decision it was to make it one [year] in the end,” he says.

“I think I just said lets just do one and take it as it comes. When you come to my age you don’t want to let anyone down. I just want to keep playing and see how I’m progressing in the early parts of the season and into the New Year. I didn’t want to be in a situation where you are struggling physically and you still have another year to go. It wasn’t about the finance of the thing, it was more about where my head would be at some stage in the future.”

His head coach is clearly happy to have him around, outlining his value both on and off the pitch.

“Scott had been great,” Cullen admits.

“He has been a really good link as well between coaches and players because he knows a lot about the game. He has been great in the environment and as a mentor, particularly with us having a lot of younger players coming through, that they have some level of guidance and understanding. And maybe even strip away some of the messages that the coaches give and go, ‘right, just concentrate on this and this and the other things will fall into place for you’. So there is his role as a player, first and foremost, and then his role as a mentor in the background as well.”

The Australian is currently preparing for his third crack at the European Cup. Having played 17 minutes off the bench in the opening round defeat of Benetton, he will hope to have a more prominent role in Lyon on Saturday.

At the other end of the scale lies Ronan Kelleher, the 21 year old hooker who marked his European debut with his seventh try in six games. Caelan Doris, 21, also made his European bow against Benetton in the back-row before a first half HIA cut his evening short. At Leinster, there is always some hungry young upstart looking to take the jersey.

“I’ve enjoyed that, watching the young guys come on,” Fardy says.

“He [Kelleher] had a few injuries when I first came in but he has worked hard. He was always in the physio room in my first year here but he has got to where he is now. His set-piece stuff is in order and he is a big boy. He has been great. Like all of us, we’ve all got plenty of things to learn and get better at but he has had a great start to the season.”

And that, for now, is enough to keep Fardy energised in Dublin. His next move is anyone’s guess.

“Australia is always there for us, in terms of going back and living there. We enjoy here, we’re really comfortable here. My son has only been to Australia for a couple of weeks of his life so he doesn’t know anything else. I feel part of the community, playing here, they’re all good guys here.”

Murray Kinsella and Bernard Jackman join Gavan Casey in studio to preview the second weekend of Champions Cup action


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