Schmidt's reign begins


THE REIGN of Joe Schmidt has begun in Leinster. The Kiwi arrives from French champions Clermont Auvernge having recruited former All Black prop Greg Feek as scrum coach with a “back-five” forward to be announced next month.

Feek was the Wellington Hurricanes forwards coach.

Jono Gibbs remains in charge of the Leinster pack, however, while Richie Murphy’s role has been expanded to include skills and kicking with the senior squad.

It is understood another coach will be added, but Schmidt was defence coach at Clermont. Guy Easterby replaces Chris Whitaker as team manager.

Isaac Boss and Ed O’Donoghue (who starts for Ireland against the Maoris tomorrow) arrive from Ulster along with South African prop Heinke van der Merwe.

Ireland under-20 fullback Andrew Conway has been promoted to a full contract, while centre Brendan Macken, prop Jack McGrath, fullback Niall Morris, backrow Rhys Ruddock, flanker Paul Ryan and lock Eoin Sheriff have signed development deals. The services of Isa Nacewa have also been secured for a further three years.

Leinster play London Wasps in a friendly at Donnybrook on Friday, August 20th, and English champions the Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Saturday, August 28th.

Meanwhile, Ulster have come to an agreement with the Cardiff Blues to release Xavier Rush from a two-year contract he signed last February. The former All Black number eight wants to stay in Cardiff, so Pedrie Wannenburg (29), a Springbok backrow, has been picked up on a two-year deal.


Forwards: Leo Cullen, John Fogarty, Jason Harris-Wright, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Nathan Hines, Trevor Hogan, Shane Jennings, Stephen Keogh, Ronan McCormack, Jack McGrath*, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Ed O’Donoghue, Mike Ross, Rhys Ruddock*, Paul Ryan*, Eoin Sheriff*, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner, Heinke van der Merwe, Stan Wright.

Backs: Shaun Berne, Isaac Boss, Andrew Conway, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald, Shane Horgan, David Kearney, Rob Kearney, Brendan Macken*, Fergus McFadden, Niall Morris*, Isa Nacewa, Paul O’Donohoe, Brian O’Driscoll, Eoin O’Malley, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton.

* development contract