Leinster have for now played down suggestions that veteran pack trio Devin Toner, Michael Bent and Scott Fardy are all set to leave the club at the end of the season after they stepped out in front of the squad to lift the Guinness PRO14 trophy together following Saturday’s title win over Munster.
The Irish province have a habit of honouring departing players by allowing them to lift the PRO14 trophy when it is being presented to the team following a final. Isa Nacewa was to the fore in 2018, Sean O’Brien in 2019, and Rob Kearney and Fergus McFadden last September before they respectively left for retirement, London Irish, Western Force and another retirement.
Now the latest PRO14 presentation has prompted speculation about the futures of Toner, Bent and Fardy as they raised the trophy aloft following a record fourth successive triumph for Leinster. Coach Leo Cullen wouldn’t confirm what the presentation actually signalled, but he paid tribute nonetheless to the role of the trio at the club.
“Dev has just broken the record as most-capped Leinster player. It’s a brilliant moment for him, he is such a great character,” said Cullen. “And Scott and Michael, the two of them are just brilliant for us over the course of the season. They are the glue.
“Regardless of what is going to happen in the future, what has happened this season, Michael and Scott are the glue of the group. Michael, what he delivers around the scrum and how he goes about his business, mentoring younger players and delivering all throughout the season.
— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) March 27, 2021
“Like, we have lots of players away, sometimes we are playing the games and he is coming up with five scrum penalties on his own which has such a big bearing on the outcome of those games. He has been brilliant. Great to see him up there.
“And Scott, since he arrived as well, he is in the thick of everything really on and off the field, a great mentor for a lot of young players we have. It’s a very special moment for the three of those guys together. We can worry about the future in the future but for now, it’s just the three of them enjoying the moment because they are just such key figures in the group.”
Familiar decade-old heartache for Munster, repetitive joy for Leinster. No wonder Leo Cullen sounded off about red-eyed pundits who had read the room completely wrong#LEIvMUN #PRO14https://t.co/j59Q3avugI
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 27, 2021
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now