Determined Scott Fardy fully focused on taking final step

Australian enjoying his first season with Leinster and now has Scarlets in his sights

Scott Fardy: “You want to try to win trophies; you shouldn’t be playing if you don’t want to do that.” Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Scott Fardy: “You want to try to win trophies; you shouldn’t be playing if you don’t want to do that.” Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

Scott Fardy exudes a singular focus that is trained squarely on preparing for Saturday’s Champions Cup semi-final against the Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium.

It offers a refuge from the white noise, the hoopla around the game over which he has no control and no interest on the basis that it won’t impact his contribution. He understands the rigmarole of the big match preamble having been in that situation before several times over a long career.

The 33-year-old former Wallaby international was a member of the Australian team that was beaten by the All Blacks in the 2015 World Cup final, the same year that Michael Cheika’s side had prised the Rugby Championship from New Zealand’s grasp. He’s lost a Super Rugby final and semi-finals too, all of which he recounts briefly when asked whether he had won a club trophy.

“I’ve won a Rugby Championship actually. I forgot that, it was a World Cup year and we were kind of focused on something else but we did win a Rugby Championship. It’s what motivates you to get in here and get working. It’s something you want to do, year-in, year-out, you should be competing for trophies and I’ve been close on a number of occasions.

“I think I played [in the] finals in Super Rugby every year except one where we lost the last game. I’ve been close a number of times. Obviously close is not good enough. We lost the 2013 Super final after being up by about 10 points I think. We’d a bit of a dodgy scrum decision or something and they turned it around.

“The jetlag kicked in. We were coming back from South Africa into New Zealand and rightly so, the Chiefs got on top of us and won the game that day. Close enough there, lost a few semi-finals, [one] one) when the Waratahs would have won it in 2014 and we lost to the Hurricanes in 2015. I’ve lost a number of qualifying finals which was disappointing.”

There isn’t a trace of sentiment in the words. Instead he’s focused on the minutiae of preparation, controlling what’s within his remit.

“I understand I’ve to do my role, just got to make sure I’m ticking my boxes through the week. I’ve not looked any further than this week. You want to try to win trophies; you shouldn’t be playing if you don’t want to do that.

No expectations

“I guess I’m not feeling that pressure from people outside, I’m just focused on what I need to do on a weekly basis.”

It’s a clinical appraisal but one from which he rarely deviates in his answers.

He explained that he had no expectations before arriving at Leinster other than appreciating in a general sense the talent in the squad. He saw bits of the province’s defeat to the Scarlets in the Guinness Pro12 semi-final at the RDS last season before adding that “he wouldn’t have watched many games before I arrived here”.  

His acclimatisation process was swift in terms of the consistent excellence of his performances. He’s brought a few ideas too, particularly in how Leinster defend the lineout maul. He’s played 18 matches with 17 starts and scored three tries.

Fardy doesn’t feel overplayed. “[I have been treated] Very well, very well. I think we’re looked after, more so than any time in my career, in terms of training sessions, minutes played, really well managed here.

He understands the linear link to his countryman Rocky Elsom, a Leinster folk hero, whose performances in 2009 were central to the province’s first Heineken Cup success.

Fardy was briefly in the Waratahs academy when Elsom was a senior player but he’s familiar with the ‘legend.’

“”Yeah, he’s a top-quality player and he played so well here. He’s much respected in the game. He captained the country. He was a super player.”

Leinster supporters would dearly love to acclaim Fardy’s first season in similar fashion. The Australian appreciates better than most the disappointment of getting within touching distance of silverware, only tp watch someone else pick it up, and also the magnitude of the challenge on Saturday afternoon.

“They [Scarlets] play such an entertaining brand of rugby, always on the edge of everything they do, at the ruck...set pieces, they go hard at everything.

“I think it’s due to be dry and nice and sunny in the Aviva on Saturday so I think you’ll see a very quick game. The way the Scarlets play, like a Kiwi side, they play with a lot of width. It will be a very entertaining game.”

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