When the news got out that Ed O’Donoghue had signed for Wasps from Leinster a week ago, you may have found yourself saying ‘I didn’t think he was still there’, or perhaps you asked ‘What on earth happened him?’ It was certainly one of the more curious career spells for an established player in recent times. Ed O’Donoghue arrived having had a successful season with Ulster and been called up to the Ireland squad for the summer tour to New Zealand, where he played against the Maori in a game Ireland were close to winning. He looked set to provide solid back-up to Cullen and Hines.
O’Donoghue made a grand total of eight appearances for Leinster, four of them in their disastrous September last year, and appeared only twice in 2011. Rumours circulated about a poor attitude and work ethic, and he didn’t even feature in the Leinster squad photos this year. Apparently a trial with Matty Williams’ Narbonne didn’t work out. Now, he’s gone to Wasps and Leinster fans won’t even notice his absence.
In his (and more pertinently, Nathan Hines’) place, Leinster signed Steve Sykes this summer. He arrived from Natal Sharks with a good reputation as a footballing second row who would probably be capped were he not South African (where great locks are falling from the trees), and comes as a ‘project player’, with a view to playing for Ireland. And so far… erm… a whopping two senior appearances and 123 minutes. In the recent spate of matches, he appears to have fallen behind not only Devin Toner but Damian Browne, and dispatched to the A side, where, in the game against bottom of National Division One side Esher, one poster on Leinsterfans described him as having ‘excelled in his anonymity’. For the next A match, against Melrose, he didn’t even feature, as Stephen Keogh’s brother Nelius partnered Mark Flanagan in the second row. Is he injured? Has he fallen out of favour? How has an experienced Super 15 stalwart seemingly fallen behind obscure academy players in the Leinster pecking order? Nobody seems to know, though, once again, rumours of a poor attitude are rife. Leinster’s love affair with the lazy second row, dating back to the great Franno, appears to be ongoing.
If you see him, say, erm, hello.