If Leinster legend Brian O’Driscoll decides to hang up his boots at the end of this season, his replacement will have to come from within. This follows the news of a new IRFU ruling yesterday, preventing the signing of an overseas number thirteen.
As Munster already have Casey Laulala in that position, the IRFU have moved to stop an influx of foreign stars, thus making it more difficult for home based players to establish themselves in the centre. This is good news for the likes of Fergus McFadden, Brendan Macken, Eoin O’Malley and Luke Fitzgerald who are the forerunners for O’Driscoll’s place.
Yesterday Leinster manager Guy Easterby said that while he would hate to lose O’Driscoll, the decision rested with the player:
“From our point of view he has still got a lot to offer. He will know himself, he has had a new baby so God knows how that is going to affect his life. He has got some big decisions to make and he is very capable of making them on his own. He is certainly one we would look to have around.”
When questioned if O’Driscoll’s delayed decision was preventing them from signing a replacement, Easterby said: “It is not like we are going to go outside of Irish players. We can’t just contract foreign players. If you were waiting on a foreign player for a spot and they needed to know then maybe. Luckily this time we haven’t got that sort of time pressure on. It is about making the right decision and us being happy.
“Brian was never going to go on for ever. I don’t think we would be allowed get in a world class centre because of Casey Laulala down in Munster covering the position.
“Eoin O’Malley came back at the weekend, he was our 50th player in the Rabo this season and Brendan Macken has had a lot of game time and he is beginning to show signs of improvement.
“Replacing Brian with another Brian is impossible. It is something we are aware of and we just have to get on with that and deal with it.”
Joe Schmidt is currently on an extensive search for a replacement for Jonathan Sexton, but Easterby admitted that the late notice of the fly-half’s move to Racing Metro has left them with little time to find an adequate replacement.
“It is quite late in the day to be looking, not ideal,” he said. “There is one or two names, we are not just going to sign someone for the sake of it.”