LEINSTER HEAD COACH Leo Cullen says he will wish Nick McCarthy well when he leaves for Munster next season, but also made an effort to highlight ongoing efforts by rival provinces to recruit players from within his ranks.
McCarthy has been named among Leinster’s replacements – a jersey he has occupied 21 times since the start of last season – for the Heineken Champions Cup pool clash with Toulouse on Sunday.
In the hope of increasing his playing minutes, the 23-year-old has committed to a two-year deal with Munster from next season. That move comes swiftly after the departure of Jordi Murphy to Ulster and Joey Carbery to Munster, with Leinster’s impressively deep resources continuing to prove sought-after by neighbouring provinces.
“We tried hard to keep Nick,” Cullen said after naming his starting XV today.
“It’s one of those strange ones, isn’t it? We understand why Nick has made the decision and we wish him well.”
Cullen admits there is a challenge to maintaining his squad, with so many highly-rated players having to compete for a finite number of matches, while rivals under the IRFU umbrella are eager to provide those extra opportunities to players.
Everyone here at the club is conscious of the fact that there is a lot of Leinster players being… ‘targeted’ maybe? I’m not sure what the best way to describe it is.
“We talked about it in the lead-up to the Munster game a few weeks ago: how Munster had changed quite significantly. There was a big South African influence there, even some young guys coming into the academy, and there are a good few Leinster guys down there.
“It is something the club are definitely very conscious of. In many ways it’s a compliment to a lot of the work that goes on behind the scenes here, whether that is at schools and club level or at the academy and sub-academy. The work that goes on is still very important.
“We need to create an environment that players want to stay in, be successful and provide everything for them here.
“That’s the thing that is in our control, that we make sure that Leinster is the best place to play rugby and hopefully the players are happy.
“We understand that it is competitive and that every now and then someone will make a decision, but for the most part we want to keep players and have them go on and play at the highest level and hopefully we have shown that over the last few seasons.”
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