Connacht appeal to IRFU to help hold on to Leinster target McCarthy
Connacht have appealed to the IRFU to help them hold on to their 31-year-old lock Mike McCarthy, according to chief executive Tom Sears. McCarthy was man of the match for Ireland against South Africa a couple of weeks ago and picked up his sixth Irish cap against Argentina last weekend.
McCarthy, who returned to the province this week with a question mark over his availability due to a back injury picked up in the series, has been linked in the media to a move to Leinster.
Just this week Leinster’s promising 22-year-old South African backrow Quinn Roux dislocated his shoulder in his side’s 6-0 victory over Glasgow in the Pro 12 and will possibly be out for five months, having just returned to the team after a long spell out injured.
Sears, who took charge in Connacht at the start of this season, said it was vital experienced players like McCarthy remained at the Sportsground. “He is an intrinsic member of our squad who has come through our system here and we need to hold on to players like him,” he said.
“It is the same with the young talent we have developed. We need to bring them through and we need to have role models like Mike on board to help that process.”
Sears added that Connacht, who have traditionally lost their Irish players to the other provinces, would be doing everything possible to ensure McCarthy, who returned to the Sportsground for a second spell in 2007, remains a Connacht player.
The most recent high-profile departures were winger Fionn Carr and hooker Seán Cronin, who moved to Leinster in 2009, while outhalf Ian Keatley signed with Munster the same year.
“We have spoken to Mike and we have spoken to the IRFU and outlined how important it is that he stays with us and we are hopeful he will remain a Connacht player. It is great to see a player come through the system here and not only make it into the Irish team but to then perform so well on the highest stage. But we have to be able to hold on to such intrinsic players,” he added.
Connacht were back training ahead of Saturday’s clash with Scottish side Edinburgh. McCarthy, who celebrated his 31st birthday yesterday, will continue to be monitored and a decision will be made on his availability tomorrow.
Winger Fetu’u Vainikolo was rested yesterday on his return from international duty with his native Tonga. The 27-year-old scored two tries in the November series including the decisive try in Tonga’s 21-15 win over Scotland. Prop Ronan Loughney hasn’t trained this week due to a knee injury picked up during the 14-3 defeat to Dragons.
The results of a scan will determine his involvement this weekend, while TJ Anderson, Finlay Bealham, Mata Fifita, Eoin Griffin, Frank Murphy, John Muldoon, George Naoupu, Dave Nolan and Kyle Tonetti remain unavailable for selection due to injury.
In Ulster, Rory Best has been training hard with the squad with hopes of making a return to action for the Heineken Cup third-round clash with Northampton on 7th December. Best has been sidelined with a neck injury suffered during Ulster’s win over Dragons a month ago but is optimistic his rehabilitation has been going according to plan.
The Irish hooker was promoting the beginning of Ulster’s reconstruction of Ravenhill this week, which will bring the ground from its current capacity of 11,400 to 17,500 when the project is completed in 2014. The construction will not push Ulster out of Ravenhill for any of their matches in the Pro 12 or Heineken Cup, although the capacity of the ground will be reduced by a few hundred during the construction phase.
“The injury is coming on well – it’s just like any ligament, it just needs a bit of time and rest,” said Best. “It’s got that now and we’ve trained it pretty hard over the past two weeks. Hopefully in the next while, it should come on a lot and I’ll hopefully be back playing in the next two weeks.”