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Dublin: 7°C Monday 26 October 2020

'They have an amazing skill level': Furlong turns Fardy into a Wexford hurling fan

The Leinster team-mates were at Parnell Park last Sunday to watch Dublin take on Davy Fitzgerald’s side.

BILBAO’S SAN MAMÉS, St James Park and, this week, Celtic Park. Scott Fardy has ticked a couple of sporting venues off his checklist in recent times, and as a Liverpool supporter, has enjoyed the experience of running out for Leinster at some famous football grounds.

But most enjoyable, he says, was an afternoon in the stands at Parnell Park last Sunday where he and Leinster team-mates Tadhg Furlong and Jack McGrath watched Dublin’s Leinster senior hurling championship draw against Wexford.

Leinster's Tadhg Furlong and Scott Fardy after the match Leinster's Wexford-supporting contingent. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

After being invited to Croke Park for a first taste of hurling last summer, Fardy was amazed by the skill level and athleticism of the players in the drawn semi-final between Clare and Galway, so much so that he was keen to get out and watch more of this year’s championship.

So with Davy Fitzgerald’s Wexford in the capital last weekend for round two of their campaign, Fardy joined Furlong and McGrath among the Parnell Park crowd to witness a last-gasp Sean Moran goal snatch a draw for the hosts.

“Yeah, it was a good day,” the Australian second row smiled. “It was a nice day for it. I had been to a match before and enjoyed it. They are great athletes and they have an amazing skill level so it is always s good, entertaining watch. It was a bit disappointing at the end.”

Fardy even looked the part in a Wexford top, gifted to him by Furlong.

“He doesn’t buy much,” he laughs. “He got me that jacket a while ago. He had promised to take me a while ago but we couldn’t get down to Wexford so the game being where it was meant it was nice and close so we headed over.

“I went to the Clare-Galway semi-final last year in Croke Park. That went to a replay so I haven’t seen a win or a loss yet!”

While the former Wallaby was impressed by the afternoon’s entertainment, it wasn’t just the pace of play and skillset on show that surprised him. 

“I can appreciate the skill level and I just can’t believe Tadhgie used to run around with them. That’s what I can’t believe, to be fair.

“He’s got nicknames for all the lads. He’s just yelling out their names. I love the crowd, I love how passionate they are about the game. It was the same when I went to Croke Park with guys screaming out. I enjoyed that.”

Leinster will expect a similarly febrile atmosphere at Celtic Park this Saturday, as they go into Glasgow Warriors’ backyard in pursuit of back-to-back Pro14 titles.

With Devin Toner ruled out through injury, Fardy — who started the Champions Cup semi-final and final at six — is expected to come into the second row to renew his partnership with James Ryan. 

“There have been a few Aussies have played for Celtic in the past,” he explains. “Mark Viduka played and Tommy Rogic is there now. It’s obviously a famous football ground and I was saying the other day how I’ve played in a few of them now.

Scott Fardy Fardy speaking to the media this week. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“I played in Newcastle last week and in Bilbao last year. They are great stadiums, the crowd is right on top of you and it makes for a great atmosphere.”

It’s then suggested Fardy will have played at more Champions League grounds than any Australian footballer, but he quickly corrects that: “Harry Kewell won one mate. He came off early but he played.”

Fardy, who has signed a new contract with Leinster to remain at the province next season, continues to be an invaluable member of Leo Cullen’s side, the 34-year-old playing an integral role in their Champions Cup success last term.

Although his influence has not waned in his second season at the club, Fardy has been forced to sit out a few more games this time around due to that frustrating overseas player ruling which only permits the province to field two of him, James Lowe and Jamison Gibson-Park at any given time.

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But with Kiwi nine Gibson-Park qualifying for Irish residency next month under the three-year residency rule, and Lowe also set to follow suit, Cullen won’t be presented with the same headache next year.

“It’s not tough to take because it is like, well, we used 56/57 players so far and there are 34 or 33 players not being used each week but they contributed to the year,” Fardy says.

I played 40 minutes at the weekend so I was able to contribute in some way. You can’t complain when you are on the bench because you are still part of the squad that week. There are a lot of guys not playing this week who have put in a huge amount of effort to put us where we are now, to put us in the home semi-final.

“There are guys who have played nearly every game in the Pro14 and more than likely won’t run out this week. So you never complain about what part you play in a game, you have just got to make sure you have to do your best every week.”

He adds: “No one treats me like an overseas player here. I’m just one of the squad, I feel. I don’t feel different to anyone else here.

“If someone is playing better than me, they picked ahead of me. That’s the way it is. I think that’s the case when you play here.”

Fardy has more than justified his selection and while the loss of Toner’s set-piece pedigree and leadership is a blow, the 39-time capped international is a more than able deputy. 

He’ll come up against a familiar face in Dave Rennie this week after the pair crossed paths in Super Rugby: “The Chiefs and the Brumbies have had some big clashes over the years.

“They [Glasgow] are always an incredibly physical side. They fight very hard. They are very abrasive and very tough. It is going to be a tough game this weekend.”

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Ryan Bailey

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