All eyes on Le­in­ster in­take

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Sports - John O’Sul­li­van

There is a stand­ing joke in Ir­ish rugby that one of the most ea­gerly awaited news items in a sea­son is the con­fir­ma­tion of Le­in­ster’s first year academy in­take, es­pe­cially amongst the other prov­inces.

That an­nounce­ment will come early this week and in Lim­er­ick, Cork, Gal­way and Belfast there’ll be more than a ca­sual in­ter­est. Pop­u­la­tion size and player num­bers are sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tory fac­tors but the Le­in­ster academy and its staff also de­serve huge credit in terms of tal­ent iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and de­vel­op­ment.

Not ev­ery academy player trains on, some are stymied by a logjam of tal­ent within that pro­vin­cial sys­tem in par­tic­u­lar po­si­tions and in­evitably for oth­ers, there comes a time when the far­away hills ap­pear greener, es­pe­cially for the am­bi­tious.

Take tight­head prop for ex­am­ple; Ro­man Salonoa headed for Mun­ster, Jack Aungier (inset) for Con­nacht, no doubt con­scious that in Tadhg Fur­long, An­drew Porter, Vakh Ab­dal­adze, Thomas Clark­son and Michael Milne there is ex­cep­tional com­pe­ti­tion within the Le­in­ster squad for match min­utes.

The IRFU’s per­for­mance direc­tor David Nu­ci­fora has been con­sis­tent in ex­press­ing the im­por­tance of young tal­ent be­ing given an op­por­tu­nity to reg­u­larly play at the high­est level pos­si­ble to ex­pe­dite their de­vel­op­ment ir­re­spec­tive of where they were born. Le­in­ster un­der­stand­ably feel ag­grieved that they have nur­tured and de­vel­oped play­ers only for oth­ers to reap the ben­e­fits.

Given their pre-em­i­nent pro­duc­tion line, though, it’s an ob­vi­ous place to start shop­ping for the other prov­inces and not just at academy level.

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