Feek says Leinster players and management are ‘chuffed’ Schmidt is in the running for Irish vacancy

Speculation grows that Ian Madigan will be a ‘wildcard’ for the Lions tour to Australia


Heavily transitional times for Leinster. The club came before the media yesterday, Fergus McFadden and scrum coach Greg Feek the first to face what could become a very long line of questioning about the supposedly imminent appointment of Joe Schmidt as Ireland coach.

This must be of grave concern to Leinster loyalists; how to replace a two-time European cup-winning coach, especially with Jonathan Sexton off to Racing Metro 92, Brian O’Driscoll refusing to make a decision on retirement until July and a flood of other players heading out the door (Isa Nacewa, Andrew Conway, Fionn Carr, Jamie Hagan and Heinke van der Merwe).

Not to mention the key fitness and conditioning employees that were scooped up by Ireland last year.

Feek, in his dual capacity as Ireland and Leinster scrum technician, appears as a beacon of stability in this swirling tempest. “I think the players and management are chuffed and honoured to know the head coach of Leinster is in consideration (for Ireland), and everyone is thinking he is the man for it,” said Feek.

“Everyone is proud of that. We’ll just wait and see . . . the IRFU have to sort that out.”

Most influence
McFadden was asked about the man who has had the most influence on his transition from versatile fringe player to Ireland international. “Joe is signed on again for Leinster but if he was to take the Irish job, fair play to him and hopefully I would have involvement with him, if that was the case, but at the moment he is the Leinster coach.”

And what about increasing whispers that Ian Madigan could be the Lions bolter, providing a versatile foil for Sexton (who will train today, or Thursday, for the first time since tearing a tendon in his foot less than a month ago) and Owen Farrell on the plane to Australia?

“Whether it’s Ian, there are going to be wildcards brought to Australia, there is on every Lions tour,” said Madigan. “I suppose from Ian’s perspective he has got to keep his starting place because Jonny is coming back now. I imagine if he keeps his fitness, I imagine he will be in the mix to go to Australia as well.

“ They are two very different players, Ian and Jonny, but they both have their positives in different aspects.”

Eoin O’Malley’s return from a knee injury has been stalled, Feek confirming the centre underwent an arthroscopic operation last week. Brendan Macken is another centre unavailable for several weeks with a broken hand so Leinster are stuck with O’Driscoll against Munster and the Challenge Cup semi-final against Biarritz on April 27th.

Feek hopes the former Ireland captain’s July announcement is a positive one for Leinster. “It would be a shame not to have him at Leinster for what he offers the young guys.”