Leinster confirm approach for Japan-based Thorn


NEWS ROUND-UP:LEINSTER COACH Joe Schmidt has confirmed an approach for Brad Thorn, with the hope that Japanese club Fukuoka Sanix Blues will agree to allow the World Cup-winning All Black come to Dublin on a three-month deal.

It was revealed last weekend that Thorn is the main target to replace South African Steven Skyes, who returned home after an injury-cursed spell with Leinster. With the date of Leo Cullen’s return from an Achilles’ operation uncertain – although pencilled in as six to eight weeks – Leinster are operating with just three recognised secondrows, and just one who locks down behind the tighthead prop.

“With Damien Browne our only tighthead lock available, if he gets injured we have a problem,” said Schmidt. “Factor in Devin Toner has played more minutes than anyone else in the Leinster pack this season while Mark Flanagan, although doing really well, has just completed an engineering degree and he was injured a bit last year.

“The reason Brad Thorn came up is every other good lock is under contract at the moment. Sanix have contracted him for next year but really we just wondered out loud, what with the Japanese season ending for the next three months, if we could pick him up for that period with a short-term contract.

“It is still up in the air as I don’t know if Sanix would allow it. We have only spoken to Brad’s agent. There have been a couple of other names mentioned as well, but really it is a terrible time to be looking for a player so fingers crossed Leo comes through alright.”

Meanwhile, Mike Ruddock has announced the Ireland under-20 side to face his native Wales at Dubarry Park, Athlone this Friday (kick-off 7.05pm, live RTÉ 2).

Connacht’s recent interprovincial success at this level is reflected with four in the XV, including fullback Shane Layden, a star turn for Roscrea in last year’s Leinster Schools Cup. Leinster can boast 12 players in a group that is captained from outhalf by Ulster’s Paddy Jackson.

IRELAND UNDER-20S(v Wales): S Layden (Connacht); B Daly (Leinster), F Horan (Leinster), JJ Hanrahan (Munster), S Coghlan-Murray (Leinster); P Jackson (Ulster, capt), K Marmion (Connacht); K McCall (Ulster), N Scannell (Munster), P Reilly (Leinster); I Henderson (Ulster), D Qualter (Connacht), C Gilsenan (Leinster), A Conneely (Connacht), J Conan (Leinster). Replacements: D Merrey (Leinster), J Rael (Munster), J Cawley (Leinster), T Beirne (Leinster), J Coghlan (Leinster), L McGrath (Leinster), C Marsh (Leinster), C Farrell (Ulster).