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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 12 December, 2018

'The most impressive thing about Scott is what he's doing with the younger guys off the field'

Sexton and Kearney united in their praise for Leinster’s overseas player, who has brought a huge amount to the club since his arrival last summer.

Fardy was one of the standout performers for Leinster against Scarlets.
Fardy was one of the standout performers for Leinster against Scarlets.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

A RELENTLESS MASTERCLASS again from Leinster in their unwavering pursuit of a fourth European star, and while the emergence of the Leavys and Ryans has been the driving force, the new wave are being guided by an old guard ravenous for success.

Johnny Sexton, as peerless as ever, remains the playmaker and conductor of this orchestrate, yesterday scoring 18 points in the obliteration of Scarlets, while Rob Kearney’s resurgence in form continues apace, and Fergus McFadden’s worth on the wing can no longer be questioned.

And then there’s Scott Fardy, the hardened Wallaby who has added real steel to an already more gnarled Leinster pack from this time last year, further underlining his worth with a man-of-the-match performance yesterday.

He’s been doing it all season in the second row but deployed on the blindside flank in both the quarter-final and semi-final because of injuries to others, Fardy was phenomenal all over the field, leading the line out, working tirelessly both sides of the ball and ensuring Tadhg Beirne and his buddies didn’t so much get a sniff at the breakdown.

A signing to rank alongside Rocky Elsom and Brad Thorn, who both left lasting legacies at the province having been key protagonists in Leinster’s European triumphs of 2009 and 2012 respectively.

“He was outstanding today,” Kearney said of Fardy, who scored his fourth try in 19 Leinster appearances on Saturday.

Scott Fardy runs in to score a try Fardy crashes over for Leinster's fourth try. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“He’s one of those four lads who was nominated for player of the tournament as well so he’s shown a consistency throughout. I think the most impressive thing about Scott is off the field, what he’s doing with the younger guys and his coaching and mentoring. The manner in which he turned up today was incredible and a massive credit to him.”

Sexton agrees: “That’s why it is so important that the club signs these quality foreigners because I don’t think James Ryan would be the player he has been this season without Scott Fardy helping him along.

“Those back row guys, he coaches them. He’s had a huge impact on the group.”

Like Thorn?

“Yeah, he doesn’t train as hard in the gym as Brad Thorn though. I don’t think he goes to the gym actually. But, yeah, different guys come in over the years. Isa has had the biggest impact of everyone. Contepomi had a big impact on me, and the group.

“The list goes on but it is important that these guys that come in are quality players and individuals as well. He has been outstanding for us.”

And what about James Ryan, who continues to raise the bar every time he steps onto the field, yesterday bringing his unbeaten streak in professional rugby to 20 outings. A remarkable talent.

The 21-year-old again topped the carries (16) and tackles (12) charts for his team and, like Fardy, a monumental shift was embellished with a first European try.

James Ryan tackled by Rob Evans James Ryan was at it again yesterday. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“If we had him last year some of those games could have been very different,” Sexton admits. “He’s had that big an impact. He’s been outstanding. His professionalism off the pitch and his preparation and making sure he is switched on in everything that he does.

“He’s got to do some work to get his body right. He’s one of those players, like Seanie [O'Brien], he is going to pick up knocks the way he plays the game.

“I can’t speak highly enough about him.”

Neither can Munster-bound Beirne.

“I played alongside him at Lansdowne a couple of times,” the Scarlets lock/flanker hybrid said.

“He’s been scouted since he was 15; everyone knows he is a prodigy here in this country. He is an exceptional player and he has shown that in the last year, with Ireland and Leinster.”

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Ryan Bailey

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