If there is one man in Ireland who its easy to dump blame on, it’s Tom Court. Court joined Ulster in 2006, aged 26, with a little bit of Super Rugby experience. Back then, he played both sides, but ended up specializing on the loosehead side, and has blossomed (if that is the right word) into a very competent and useful player. He has been one of the standout looseheads in the last few years of Heineken rugby and has been a major factor in Ulster’s pack becoming the best in the Pro12.

He has wracked up a few Ireland caps as well – 32 to date – and got a Lions call-up, albeit a fortuitous one. But Court’s international career will be remembered for one thing – the demolition of our scrum at Twickers in 2012 when he came off the bench and played out of position. This narrative is hugely unfair – Court had soldiered manfully, a diligent filler-inner, providing cover from the bench for both sides of the scrum when needed, yet got dumped on when he needed support.

In a way it was understandable – Court is Australian and you won’t get anyone building him up in the media or pencilling him into the team, especially ahead of a domestic-born yeoman who agent is prominent on certain TV outlets. The man himself was dropped out of the Irish 23 for last years Six Nations for Dave Kilcoyne, but came right back in when DJ Church was on the naughty step – Kilcoyne might have been the better impact sub, but Court was clearly the better man to start.

And now Court is on his way and has joined Reading Samoa (we’ll have to stop calling them that – they are Irish-ing up to the max with iHumph, TOL, Jamie Hagan and now Court) on a 3-year contract. Our feeling is that Humph wasn’t for budging and for a man of his vintage (he turned 33 earlier this month), three years is a good deal, but it fits with how his Irish career has gone – and we wonder will Ulster not know what they had until it’s gone.

So where does it leave Ulster? And what about Ireland? Ulster first – they have two looseheads behind Court – Calum Black and Paddy McAlister. McAlister would be the better-known and was certainly the better prospect, but hasn’t returned from injury since coming on in the HEC final in 2012. Calum Black has stepped in and has done ok, without troubling Court. It would be fair to say neither are mapped by Joe Schmidt at present.

Which brings us on to Ireland. Here is how we would see the rankings of internationally mapped Irish looseheads right now:

  1. DJ Church. No competition
  2. Jack McGrath. Vaulted Killer Davecoyne in the squad pecking order due to some impressive performance this season, and was MOTM on his debut (albeit slightly romantically from Wardy – we’d have picked the much-maligned/warrior-who-never-takes-a-backward-step – delete as per prvincial leanings appropriate – POM).  Appears to be second in command.
  3. Tom Court. Sure, he might be easy to drop, but remains arguably the second best scrummaging loosehead against all but the most technical opponents.  Still in the picture.
  4. Dave Kilcoyne. The well-connected Munsterman did a good job for Ireland off the bench last year and looked to be progressing nicely, but hasn’t started the season as well. You probably haven’t heard, but Frankie is his agent.
  5. James Cronin. Highly exciting youngster, who impressed in a high profile cameo against Leinster. It will be interesting to see how he finishes the season – will he take Killer’s shirt?
  6. Marcus Horan. Wait, off that, Deccie has gone

So, as of next season, the odd man out Court will be sunning himself in Lahn. Well, in Reading. Which will leave the best four looseheads in Ireland playing in Munster and Leinster. If this were Australia, and the best four looseheads (I know, right, Australia having FOUR whole looseheads is a bit of a laugh, but bear with us) were playing at the Reds and the Brumbies, one of them would just be told, in no uncertain terms, he was a Waratah now.

The IRFU have talked a good game to date about the next step after banishing foreigners from rugger was to spread talent through the provinces better, most recently in Cummiskey’s uncharacteristically excellent interview in the Irish Times excellent November rugger magazine last week. Time to see if they will put their money where their mouth is. Peter Nucifora, if it is actually he, might have an input here too – and he probably won’t be recommending queueing them up in Munster and Leinster.

We think / have been told that while Healy and McGrath are contracted through next year, both Munstermen will be out of contract at the end of the year – Cronin will surely enjoy an upgrade on whatever he is on now if his upward curve continues, but how would Frankie feel about his other client being offered, say, a central contract … with Ulster. Can you imagine Dave Kilcoyne fitting in in Belfast? With Munster currently in some financial woe, perhaps that might be his best option. Unless he goes to London Irish too.

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  1. Cian

     /  November 14, 2013

    While I’m sure there are good arguments for spreading talent through the provinces, using Australia as an example isn’t one of them. They are another country that have singularly failed to build strength in depth in the majority of positions, especially (as you mentioned) at prop, so I’m not sure how your hypothetical situation above is of any relevance/usefulness.

    Seems strange that Ulster let Court go without a strong back up, and I agree that he has been given a lot of unwarranted stick over the past few years. He’s really impressed for Ulster in the HEC whenever I’ve seen him.

  2. Lop12

     /  November 14, 2013

    Harsh on Kilcoyne I think; very good prospect, still a young fella at the very start of his propping career. Seems to be “punished” here for having an unpopular agent; certainly more to his prospects than being well connected IMO.

    Its David Nucifora also, not Peter.

  3. mikebrad

     /  November 14, 2013

    I agree that court has got a lot of unwarranted slack. The england game was a disaster and he was a victim of bad planning and selection as much as anything. Callum Black will need to step up but I feel that someone else might come in.
    I think that the agents as pundits thing feels a bit wrong – see also ryan “hand orf” constable on bbc NI.

    • Amiga500

       /  November 14, 2013


      Ryan Constable and Frankie Sheehan should be nowhere near TV or radio.


      • Mike

         /  November 14, 2013

        Couldn’t agree more. Its a disgrace that the BBC pay both Constable and Bryn Cunningham to promote their own business. I cant recall either having a bad word to say about one of their own. It makes for poor commentary at the very least…

        Perhaps a discussion for another time, but i cant understand why the IRFU negotiate with agents at all. Its fine that players take advice and have people look after their interests, but they should announce a blanket policy of speaking directly to players only.

          • Dave F

             /  November 14, 2013

            Agree on the commentator/agent conflict but don’t agree at all with the notion that players should negotiate directly with the IRFU. We’re assuming there that they’ll just do the right thing by the players. In reality, direct negotiation puts an inexperienced negotiator (potentially a young rugby player) with a time-limited career up against a shrewd IRFU suit (most likely an accountant or someone keenly aware of the IRFU’s finances). That’s an incredibly unbalanced negotiation. If I were a player, I’d stick to what I know and hire an agent to do my negotiating for me.

          • toro toro

             /  November 14, 2013

            Spot on. And apart from the justice of it, it would be *hilariously* illegal to try to bar somebody from having legal/strategic representation in a contract negotiation.

  4. Sorry to see Tom go, and we’ll do well to replace him adequately. I’d be happy with Kilcoyne, though that’s pie in the sky other than to regurgitate the point that a bit of sensible talent-spreading might do Ireland some favours.

    On a purely Ulster note, if we lose Afoa as well that’s our big scrum down the can.

  5. Yossarian

     /  November 14, 2013

    First thought that entered my mind when i saw Court leaving was will McGrath be off to Ulster?I think in the interest of preserving Healy that would be a poor move.(leinster Bias aside!) Strong case for one of Cronin or Kilcoyne to move though as neither will be racking up the international time the two Leinster players will.
    speaking of agents though-who is Courts!?!a 3 year deal for a 33 year old(who will be 37 for most of that final year!)

  6. Patrick O'Riordan

     /  November 14, 2013

    From an Ulster perspective, David Humphreys hasn’t really put a foot wrong when it comes to recruitment so I’d be fairly sure there is a plan…

    Humphreys has been pretty ruthless when it comes to culling players, including his little brother.

  7. Any team that wants to compete in the Heineken or even the Rabo final stages needs at least two quality options in each front row position preferably three. For the Heineken squad you have to name 10 front row players – has anyone taken a look at who Munster’s third choice lh and th are? They can’t afford to jettison one of either promising lh’s just to give Ulster a leg up.

    • I could point out Connacht have a couple of looseheads in Wilkinson and Buckley who, while they definitely rank behind the Leinster pair, are certainly no worse that Munster’s twosome, but I’d be wasting my breath.

      Instead I’ll just say I’m amazed that no-one’s pointed out the obvious: with all the looseheads at Leinster, Munster, and Connacht being Irish (or IQ), a get-out-of-jail-card in the shape of Court at London Irish in case of emergency, and Afoa (in addition to Court) about to drop off the Ulster wage-bill, surely the question we should be posing is which foreign loosehead will be signing for them in the next few months?

      • Yossarian

         /  November 14, 2013

        Buckley is behind the Munster pair(and quite possibly out of connacht at the end of this year) but Wilkinson is up there, i think the ceiling for the Munster two is higher as it is hard to see Wilkinson improving over the coming seasons.

        • Buckley’s contracted til the end of the 2015 season (though obviously there’s the by-mutual-consent option), but yes, he’s been on the naughty step to the extent that he’s not even in the HEC squad.

      • Steve

         /  November 14, 2013

        Very good point, there is a vacancy for a NIQ loosehead and given David Humphrey’s much lauded recruitment skills I would think it likely that he has someone lined up to replace Court. Well, either that or they nick Brett Wilkinson from Connacht and use that as an excuse to be allowed to sign a NIQ tighthead to replace Afoa….

        • Wilko’s signed until summer 2015 also, thankfully, so I still see the likely outcome being a NIQ loosehead. God knows what Ulster will do to replace Afoa though.

    • abitofshoepie

       /  November 15, 2013

      Also quite condescending to the great job being done at the Ulster academy to suggest Belfast as a development stop for Munster and Leinster prospects.

  8. Barry

     /  November 14, 2013

    I enjoy reading these articles but I have to say they are incredibly blinkered and, is ignorant the word?, of developmenets in Connacht.

    Ronan Lughney is far superior to most of the names on your list

    And Brett WIlkinson too!

    • Mea Cupla. I’ll be honest and say I just don’t see enough of Connacht to opine intelligently. If you would like to place those guys in the rankings above, please do. Once my kids grow up, I’ll spend much more time at the Sportsground .. promise!

    • Steve

       /  November 14, 2013

      Loughney is a tighthead, surely?

      • Yes, he switched (back) to tighthead about 2 years ago, but previous to that spent most of his (professional) Connacht career as a loosehead (he played tighthead in his first appearances years ago). He’s really struggled this year with almost no game-time.

        Injured when he finally got a start against Treviso, Rodney Ah You has (to the delighted disbelief of Connacht fans) emerged as an absolute beast of a tighthead. Not being experts, our best guess is that the only thing lacking in Rodney was the ability to take a rutting-stags-hit, and now the scrum laws have changed he’s having a great old time.

        Loughs is realistically only 3rd choice behind Rodney and White now.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  November 14, 2013

          Far too much Connacht talk for one post, less of that, steady on, people might think there is a province outside of the Dour Northerners LLC, Honesty, Pride and Passuhn inc, and Bangkok-Delgany-Pattaya fun time PLC.

      • curates_egg

         /  November 14, 2013

        Indeed. Ignorance is, as they say, bliss.

      • Connacht play an A game on the 15th and Loughney has been given the start at loosehead. Given Connacht’s lack of depth and and what seem like constant injury issues having Loughney and Ah You both able to cover both sides would seem like the best road to take, but it ends up with them falling between two stools.

        Loughney’s Ireland caps came after he had a consistent run at tighthead for Connacht, but I can’t see him making anyone’s list as a potential international at this stage, he’s barely holding on to his Connacht replacement spot these days.

      • toro toro

         /  November 14, 2013

        Rodney is now Irish-eligible, isn’t he? Can’t be more than six months off it, anyway.

    • At the end of the day Whiff of Cordite is a voluntarily endeavour run in the lads’ rapidly dwindling spare time.

      More coverage of Connacht matters would be great but they’re under no public service obligation to do so and the snarking on this is a little bit unfair.

      These comments are often a great source of additional info and have become a real community and collaborative effort that enhance the blog.

      The bottom line is, if you want there to be more blogs and articles available about Connacht, then write them. that’s the beauty of the internet.

  9. dudbox

     /  November 14, 2013

    If you read Healy’s interview in the IT this week, you see straight from the Church’s mouth that having two players fighting for a position in a province is not a bad thing. The underlying assumption that if you are on the bench you wont get game time is a bit outdated. It’s not a position where a player plays 80 minutes anymore, so quality on the bench is essential.

    The idea of starting Healy and getting 55/60 mins out of him before releasing McGrath on Saturday for Ireland or in the HC is very much a position of strength. And the competition ups both their games plus they increase the speed of their development by challenging each other and exchanging knowledge, which is crucial for developing young props. I’m sure the same is true in Munster and therefore Killer and Cronin should stay and fight it out for the starting position.

    Ulster will have to look after their own unfortunately, we can’t rotate props through the provinces.

    • So its better to have McGrath and Cronin playing 25 minutes a week rather than 55? Maybe for Munster and Leinster, but not for Ireland.

      • Yossarian

         /  November 14, 2013

        I wouldn’t be surprised if McGrath gets to start ahead of Healy in the future(same way Hanke VanDerM used to) potentially a better scrummager than Healy and possibly more suited to away days in France, or at he very least he could start just to keep Healy fresh against weaker H-Cup opposition.

        • You mean like Uncle Joe’s alternating home (Reddan/Healy/Jennings) and away (Boss/VDM/McLaughlin) selections? That’ll keep everyone happy I guess.

      • Bowe Gathers

         /  November 14, 2013

        WoC are you telling me Leinster and Munster winning would be bad for Ireland? And there I thought t’was only Ulster who held that title…

      • dudbox

         /  November 14, 2013

        I know what you mean, but don’t you accept my point that Healy has and will continue to bring McGrath forwards in his development, and having them in the same setup day in, day out could also be argued as having merit.

        Could McGrath not benefit for a season or two more in the same provincial setup as the Lions Test loosehead (were it not for injury)?

        I guess it boils down to whether McGrathis that far in his development that he can now continue to flourish by himself.

  10. Lads ye were superb but having cuts at every ex Munster player is tiresome and Kidney is pretty damn tiresome and highlights clearly the problem with the vast majority of the Irish that they are happy to see Ireland doing well as long as their province is getting its players in the team………..

  11. Ger Gilroy

     /  November 14, 2013

    Marcus Horan has done a hell of a lot more for his country then ye ever will. Was dropped pretty much straight after he helped win his country a grand slam, can’t wait to see belittle BOD next season after it is made apparent he stayed on a bit too long at end of his illustrious career.

    • This isn’t the real Ger Gilroy by the way in case anyone was unconvinced. IP address is all wrong

      • Ger Gilroy

         /  November 14, 2013

        I don’t know who the real Ger Girloy is but its my name so should I change it to another name to suit ye or?

        • toro toro

           /  November 14, 2013

          It’s always inspiring to see someone spell their own name correctly. Assuming that it is your real name, which is looking less and less likely.

  12. curates_egg

     /  November 14, 2013

    McGrath probably made his way on to the list not just because of some performances this seasons (as WOC states) but the end of last season as well, when he was preferred to Healy by Schmidt for a couple of big(ger) games…and delivered in spades. Very interesting to see how the rivalry develops over the course of the season.

  13. Isn’t the point of the player development programme to have two IQ international standard players in each position throughout the provinces? If that’s the case, then why would you punish two provinces who have actually produced two such players by taking one apiece from them? It looks to me like Cronin (who, in my opinion, appears to be of roughly equal ability to McGrath, but is getting less gametime – time will tell) might overtake Kilcoyne at Munster, but I could be wrong – a lot of quality ball carriers regress in their second season once they get targeted, and then adjust. I have trouble seeing either of them permanently taking possession of the jersey for Munster, so I think they’ll probably both get plenty of gametime. On the other hand, McGrath seems less likely to me to displace Healy for a big game if both are healthy, so maybe there’s a slightly better argument for moving him – but I really think regular competition can only drive each player to higher heights, as Heal spoke to this past week.

    • Similarly, I don’t think Ulster should send one of their dynamite inside centre prospects down south unless there’s a chronic failure to find them gametime. Ian Nagle in Munster is a bit of a different case – a guy who shows great potential but absolutely no prospect of displacing the incumbents on his own team, even for a few games per year. THAT is a waste. But these looseheads seem to be juking it out and pushing each other on, which I think is great.

      • Fair point, and not to be ignored.

        But our point was based more on the IRFU’s stated desire to spread talent better. Even though I’m an Ulsterman, if Chris Farrell was being blocked by Marshall, Olding, Cave, Payne et al, I would hope for Ireland’s sake he could unleash his potential elsewhere, even if it pained me.

        Your previous point about punishing the provinces comes back to the same thing – do the provinces feed the national team, or work independently? The answer is tied up in that imo

        • It is complex, of course – the centres in Ulster maybe are coming close to a locks in Munster/outside backs in Leinster type tipping point. I suppose I think that the spread should occur only if there is a serious danger that a talented prospect might slip permanently behind an incumbent, which I don’t really think is going to happen with these looseheads – but certainly, if we never heard from McGrath or Kilcoyne again, it’d be a crying shame. It’s a tricky path for the IRFU to negotiate, and I’m not sure either “spread ’em all!” or “keep ’em all!” is going to be the best strategy in every case. The IRFU have said they decide things on a case-by-case basis, which runs the risk of inconsistency and promoting provincial bickering (as when some Leinster fans asked why was Conway allowed to move, but Nagle hasn’t been moved?)…but I’m not sure that adopting one strategy for every decision is the best way either.

    • curates_egg

       /  November 14, 2013

      McGrath has already taken Healy’s place for big games. See the end of last season.

      • Occasionally, under Schmidt, who as we’ve seen this afternoon, is renowned for experimentation. I have a bit of trouble seeing it happening long-term, but if it does, great, and all the more reason NOT to move him, as I was advocating.

  14. Keith

     /  November 14, 2013

    The problem is when you have the starting and back up Irish players in the same province. Then the province is relying on 3rd choice in games where Irish duty impinges and the reserve isn’t getting to start for province or country. In and ideal world first second and third choice Irish players should all be playing for different provinces, so McGrath to Ulster and new blood for Leinster

  15. Paddy o

     /  November 14, 2013

    Ulster also have another promising loosehead in Kyle McCall. My first thoughts on hearing court was leaving (for a 3 year contract no less) were of him, whilst also wondering has Dhumph the wily old fox managed to call the top of the market on this one again? McCall is a small, squat, mobile unit and excellent tackler from the bits I have seen of him. He would fit the bill as an impact sub for a year or two until a bit older. Theoretically the best use of resources might possibly be McCall to either Connacht, Munster or Leinster, with one of the big 5 looseheads going the other way.

    I’m becoming less confident about these arranged marriages though – it is hard to beat growing your own if you can manage to give them enough game time to keep them all happy. For example, under Schmidt, Leinster managed to hang on to a pretty impressive back row roster. Ulster couldn’t really do that with willie Fallon Faloon – he moved on by “mutual consent” and has been a success. Hagan, Carr were successes. Reddan, Ross, Downey, jones, Conway, Murphy, big bad nick Williams have arrived where they are by various pathways. They want to be where they are, whilst being wanted where they are. I’m not so sure about trying to move players who are happy where they are at though. In the words of Anglo the musical it’d be more a case of : we are where we are and where we are is f****d.

  16. Bueller

     /  November 14, 2013

    Just going to throw this one out there……..Is the lauding and hype over McGrath potentially a little premature? I am as hopeful as anyone that he will live up to all this hype but his MoM last week was beyond ridiculous – while I don’t begrudge hi the honour, he played fine and the scrum was decent against a disjointed Samoa, if that is a MoM performance then the bar is low. He is a decent player but to pole-vault him miles ahead of all contenders is over the top IMO.
    I really am not trying to make this a provincial thing but the pedestal that Leinster’s front-rows sit on is somewhat unfounded. Healy, Cronin and Ross , 3 multi-caped internationals, were made to look quite average at scrum time in Thomond Park a month ago v ‘Frankie’s lovechild’ Kilcoyne, ‘Somebody named’ Sherry and ‘Kidneys pet’ Archer.
    The margins between all the provincial front rows is miniscule and I genuinely believe any of our top 8 loose heads around the provinces could have turned in a good looking performance against Samoa. Obviously Healy is by far the front runner but the competition behind hi are all at a very similar level.

    • Paddy

       /  November 14, 2013

      I’d have given it to Best or SOB myself. But it wasn’t beyond ridiculous. He had a flawless performance in the set piece and in the loose. I’d agree about it being premature to laud him as the second coming of Healy. He’s only had one cap after all. But as a Leinster fan having watched him develop he’s always impressed when he’s played and seems to be on a steady upward curve. Also the player he pushed out was NIE so there’s a bit of politics in it.
      Healy was only coming back from injury at that stage and Ross doesn’t seem to have adapted to the new scrum laws as I would have hoped. I think our vaunted front row tag was based on previous years when it was head and shoulders above the others. Ulster closed the gap last year.
      Archer went from poor to less poor last year. But he seems to have really improved this year. Hopefully he’ll get in the team ahead of Botha more when it matters then we can judge him.

  17. Mike

     /  November 14, 2013

    Id agree with that Buller. He has promise and it was a good start, but to say he was anything more than decent is an exaggeration. Those sort of MoM awards really make the Kiwi’s laugh at us. Made his tackles and had a good time in the scrum but was hardly outstanding. It said more about how the rest of the team played than him (that’s not his fault). He is still miles miles behind Healy. Like everyone else, i hope he continues to improve, but there is no guarantee of that.

    Does it worry anyone else about the lack of fast twitch muscle in the Ireland team generally? We lack both pace and bosh. The backline is slow, and we have very few ball carriers in the pack. I worry that SoB will be watched very closely, and if he isn’t making any headway we might really struggle against Australia and New Zealand. We are obviously missing Ferris, but i think there is a real case for including one of Luke Fitz / Luke Marshall / Sean Cronin or Dan Tuohy for their pace or ball carrying.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  November 14, 2013

      Yet we have IFRU directives printed in national newspapers scaremongering about teenagers lifting weights and taking protein shakes, a lack of bosh and pace will become even more acute if the “think of the children brigade” get any more headway, we have no Eben Estebeths or Nonus waiting in the wings as it is. I think Spala should be standard for every age grade and academy team at this stage.
      In short, yeah you are right to worry about our current and as far as I can see future lack of athletic ability in Irish rugby.

    • contraflow

       /  November 15, 2013

      The fact that we have never beaten NZ is why Kiwi’s laugh at us Mike. Our MOTM awarding proclivities don’t register on their radar. In fact nothing about Irish rugby registers on their radar.

  18. Scrumdog

     /  November 14, 2013

    What we need are some up and coming forwards, locks (Henderson is a back-rower) and genuine, fast, open-side flankers who offer ‘support’ in broken play and are getting game time with the provinces Ryan at Leinster appears to be the only young seven in the mix, not sure he has what’s needed to step it up and he doesn’t get a lot of game time waiting for Jennings to hang his boots up.
    Nagle had a superb game against the Wallabies a couple of years ago with Munster and then disappeared..a move to Connacht for him would have been ideal after that to have him challenging now for an Ireland spot, (maybe he’s another Buckley?). Unless Ryan does move to France nothing will have changed for Nagle other than with POC being so injury prone and likely to be rested a lot these days, like BOD, this may see Nagle get time with DOC.. we’re short on good durable forwards coming through…hopefully there’s someone scouting beyond our shores..there’s plenty of Irish lads playing around Europe.

  19. hulkinator

     /  November 14, 2013

    Lads, what about a loan system between provinces? That would spread the talent around but the players would be given an option of returning to their previous province.

    Its a good discussion to have. A few years ago we had Horan and Hayes holding up the Irish scrum and hardly getting a break. It got to a crisis point which ended well as it forced the IRFU/provinces to get their act together. Irish people are naturally stocky and built for propping. In a few years down the line Ireland will have enough quality of props to match any country.

  20. Outstanding post. Can McGrath not break his contract for a move to Belfast – we’d like that a lot.

  21. contraflow

     /  November 15, 2013

    Can I propose a NFL style draft? Televised for max publicity, with months of speclatory anticipation on the part of fans, various talking heads and media hacks. Basically post u20’s, the 4 provinces are apportioned free picks with the worst performing team getting first pick.

    I think this would spread the talent in a fair fashion and aid Ireland’s cause by seeing more Irish lads getting game time. Teams could identify depth gaps and plan for them. It would also make the poorest team more competitive and be exciting for fans and media thereby raising the profile of the sport.

    • Yossarian

       /  November 15, 2013

      problem with that is it reduces the incentive of provinces to work on academy/underage structures. When Munster were at their peak they invested in overseas players(Cullen,Tipoki,Halsted,Howlett)have no problem with that but around the time LEinster overtook Munster Munster had the higher wage bill. Leinster were investing in youth development officers etc. The game is growing massively around Leinster and the schools where the academy players come from is widening. Why do all that underage investment if the player you cultivate is drafted elsewhere?
      Totally agree there needs to be a spread of talent a loan system arguably the best (could Martin Moore have been playing for Connacht all last season before breaking through this year with Leinster?) but whatever vehicle is chosen would have to be done carefully. in general players seem to reach a point where they look for a move (steenson,Conway etc)

      • seiko

         /  November 16, 2013

        I don’t think Rocky Elsom, Nacewa, Brad Thorn, Nathan Hynes, not to mention Ollie Le Roux, Stan or CJ van de Linde came cheap. Then there is Ross, Straus, Cronin & Reddan all brought in.

        Leinster do have a bigger player pool to fish from though, so should be producing more players than the other provinces.

        Its nuts to think of moving players around if they don’t want to go. Having Healy & McGrath at Leinster will mean that neither are overworked and may have a much longer career that way.

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