Fardy and Lowe step up to the plate with aplomb

Hugely influential pair have surely earned the right to start against Saracens

Leinster’s Sean O’Brien is tackled by Antoine Dupont. Flanker was back to his inspirational best against Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster’s Sean O’Brien is tackled by Antoine Dupont. Flanker was back to his inspirational best against Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Fardy and Lowe may need to be trademarked. Brief visitors to Dublin and Leinster, they have become shining examples of how to make lasting impressions in European rugby.

Hammer and sickle, both deserve praise in every dispatch about this victory over Toulouse.

Leinster have a habit of stumbling across their best team. Neither foreign recruit was due to start but Jamison Gibson-Park’s hamstring and illness to Rhys Ruddock forced two tweaks in selection.

No winger in Ireland can finish with James Lowe’s power and assurance.

It was Jacob Stockdale’s corner – where the Ulster star jolted the All Blacks yet fumbled in the quarter-final – that the Kiwi’s two tries – one disallowed – made it unthinkable for Leo Cullen to omit him from the final on May 11th.

That being last year’s reality in Bilbao.

Same goes for Scott Fardy. There might be some issue about the Wallaby being deployed in his natural blindside slot but such a dynamic display must have Michael Cheika working back-channels to get him to Japan for the World Cup.

“He never trains during the week,” said Johnny Sexton unasked to no one in particular. “We started calling him ‘Saturday’ cause it’s the only day he shows up.”

The joke was delivered with affection.

“Scott sees the game from a slightly different perspective,” said James Ryan. “Not the way some of us in the Northern Hemisphere would look at it. Hardly trains all week, yeah, but has a knack of pulling out immense performances as you saw today.

“He’s added so much to the club. Signed on for another year. It’s great to have him.”

Class game

Maybe Cheika has no hope.

Seán O’Brien also reappeared – the real Seán O’Brien – and not a moment too soon with a performance that suggests the flanker who dominated on the Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017 has unfinished business before joining London Irish this summer.

“Huge,” Ryan agreed, “I thought he had a class game today. He is one of the main leaders in the team. He always speaks so well. He’s been around a long time and this is his last few weeks in a club he has given so much to.

“He is one of the iconic Leinster players in the professional era. That is another factor for us, for him to go out on a high. That would be great.”

Due to so many returning personnel, comparisons to what England did to Ireland in February will be mentioned plenty of times over the next three weeks.

“The Six Nations has been put firmly to bed. If you are still looking back at that you are not in the right place. All we are thinking about now is hopefully winning the European Cup again and the Pro 14.

“I think Saracens are better this season but we are better too.”

How so?

“I think our game has evolved,” Ryan added. “If we get it right in attack we can cause teams trouble.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.