All eyes on Leinster intake
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.