Leinster looking for a better league start
The province are looking for another player who can play in the position of outside centre
Lote Tuqiri looks on during the NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and his club Wests Tigers at Sydney Cricket Ground recently. Leinster haven’t confirmed if he is on his way to the RDS. Photograph: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images.
Leinster are holding firm on the notion that the lack of marquee players to fill the outside channels on the wing and in the centre when Brian O’Driscoll is not available, won’t be a problem for the province.
Both Fionn Carr and Andrew Conway left Leinster at the end of last season; Eoin O’Malley was forced to retire through injury, while O’Driscoll must carefully measure the number of matches he plays each season.
“It’s a difficult one,” admitted Leinster kicking and skills coach Richie Murphy. “We are a little bit short,” he conceded. “It’s not problematic. No. We’ve young players coming through. It’s an area we are definitely keeping an eye on but I wouldn’t say it’s problematic.
“Obviously Fionn (Carr) left, Andy Conway left. We have young guys coming up from the academy. But those outside channels at 13 and a little bit wider, it is something that we are looking at. You know, we are feeling a bit vulnerable in the outside channels.”
Lote Tuqiri’s name has come up as a possible late recruit to the RDS and Leinster have said they are looking outside of Ireland. The Fijian-born dual Union and League player has been capped 67 times for Australia over a six-year span and also played at Leicester Tigers, when Leinster’s Matt O’Connor was on the coaching staff, in 2009-10. “He’s not ruled out but he’s definitely not ruled in either,” said Murphy.
Other than that fans may see Luke Fitzgerald in the position after an injury-torn year. Fitzgerald is expected back this week along with Fergus McFadden, Gordon D’Arcy, Devin Toner and Kevin McLaughlin for Leinster’s first league match, against Llanelli.
But there is a note of caution in Murphy’s voice: “We’re definitely interested in looking at him in the 13 channel. He’s coming back from injury. Managing him is important. It is something we are looking at but when that actually occurs we can’t really say.
“He has a good passing game, he’s got great feet, he reads the game pretty well and he’s strong in contact good as a ball-carrier and in the clean out area . . . good defensive reads as well. It is a position he can play. It’s just getting an opportunity with someone who’s coming back from injury to put him into that position.”
Leinster have Brendan Macken as well as less experienced but rising academy players such as Colm O’Shea. But the fit seems forced.
“He’s mainly a 12 but we think he could play at 13,” says Murphy of Belvedere College graduate O’Shea.
“We have some good options. Tom Daly we would definitely look at as a 12 more than a 13.
“Adam Byrne could end up playing 13 but again, 19 years of age. You are trying to manage someone like Adam. To take him from the wing and put him into the centre might be a little bit difficult for him at this stage.”