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Dublin: 20 °C Friday 7 August, 2020

Leinster's Easterby happy to work with IRFU and Nucifora on transfer targets

Guy Easterby believes Leinster can be competitive in the market.

LEINSTER’S GUY EASTERBY believes the province can compete for high-quality signings from abroad, despite the sense that English and French clubs will continue to dominate the transfer market.

The Top 14 and Premierships sides have greater financial muscle than the Irish provinces, but Easterby feels that Leinster can continue to offer players a rounded package that takes into account their lifestyle and family needs.

Brad Thorne with his winners medal Brad Thorn was one of Leinster's very best signings. Source: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

Ulster, Munster and Leinster are currently allowed four non-Irish qualified players in their squads, as well as one project player. Easterby suggests that filling all of those spots should not be the priority, but instead points to ensuring that NIQ targets are of the highest quality possible.

“What we’ve got clever at is making sure we identify the right player and then try to go at him as hard as we can, if that makes sense,” said Easterby, who is head of rugby operations at Leinster.

“The reality is obviously that the money that’s going into the English and French games at the moment, they’re single sorts of people who are investing heavily in the game.

“I think the Bristol guy (Stephen Lansdown, the club’s billionaire owner), I don’t know for a fact but they’re saying he’s the richest of the lot having bought Bristol City as well and they’re trying to go up, so that’s what you’re fighting against, I guess.

“But the thing that we have to be really, really good at is that if we identify someone, I think identifying them early, going at them early and doing it before other people do and put something on the table – not just from a financial perspective but all those other things. I think people with young families, their schooling and those things become very important.”

Being able to offer world-class players the chance of trophy honours is another important element of any package Leinster and the other provinces might put forward.

Given that Leinster have lost all four of their Champions Cup fixtures so far this season and will not take part in the knock-out stages of the European competition, this appears to be another area where they might suffer.

However, Easterby believes any players he is attempting to lure to Leinster will not judge the province on a single season.

“You always want to be in the knock-outs; that’s the reality of it and that’s disappointing. You would hope that people wouldn’t just judge it on a one-off season.

Guy Easterby and Leo Cullen Easterby is head of rugby operations at Leinster. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“We have been competitive for a number of seasons and I think everyone is disappointed that we haven’t been as competitive this season, but I would hope that wouldn’t have a huge effect.”

As for the process of actually signing a player from abroad, Leinster must continue to work with the IRFU. The union has an overriding say on all new signings for the provinces, and Easterby explained how the process works.

“We’ll identify a player or a position and then we’d speak to the union, and that point of contact would be David Nucifora and he would assess that from an IRFU succession planning point of view.

“He’ll then come back to us with his thoughts and in fairness he’s very open to discussion, he’s not like, ‘Well, that doesn’t suit us’.

“He’ll look for reasons as to why you want to do it and he’s very understanding, I would say, of the reasons. There’s no point in saying, ‘Well, we could do with him because we just need an extra body’.

“You have to have a reason for doing it, but we want to go through that process when we’re recruiting anyway, you don’t want to spend money just for the sake of it. That process is fine, then you obviously go to the market and what you’re trying to do is sell the environment that we have here, the players that we have here.

“Some people are more interested in money than others, some people want to come and win stuff and you’re weighing up all those things against the other clubs you’re bidding with.”

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Murray Kinsella

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