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Debate rages around Irish Rugby's biggest prospect's future

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Tuesday Jun 4, 2024

Leinster flyhalf Sam Prendergast has long been touted as the next great prospect in Irish Rugby.

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A dominant force at the U20 level, Prendergast played a key role in securing a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2023, as well as guiding the men in green to a U20 World Rugby Championship final appearance.

Since then, Prendergast has gone on to make his senior debut for Leinster, with his first outing being a highly impressive late victory over the Emirates Lions at Ellis Park.

However, with such a backlog of talent currently within the Leinster system, the idea of Prendergast departing the province temporarily in search of game time has become a hot topic for debate in Irish Rugby circles.

Leading the discussion has been a rumoured move to Galway to link up with older brother Cian at Connacht for what would be a season-long loan.

Discussing the potential move and the merits around it, former Munster backrow turned esteemed rugby analyst Alan Quinlan raised some interesting points during his regular appearance on the Irish Sports talkshow ‘Off The Ball’.

“I know we spoke about this last week, but I’d be surprised. In some ways, if Leinster is not going to play him and there is a decision made, I would find it ludicrous, really.

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“If that was the case, then, yes, it’s better for him to go to Connacht, play matches, get exposed and actually, with respect to Connacht, be under a bit of pressure from a pack that’s not always ultra-dominant, be under a bit of pressure from a pack that’s not always ultra dominant and really get physically and mentally tested, being put under pressure all that stuff is great.

“Obviously, if you play behind the Leinster pack, who are, you know, more often than not dominant, aren’t they? He has an easier kind of armchair ride of quality ball and quality players all around him on a regular basis, even when the internationals are away, because of the depth of that Leinster squad.

“So I’d be amazed (If he went).” Quinlan concluded.

Connecting the dots, Quinlan referenced the most similar move in recent years, which saw the immensely talented Joey Carbery depart Leinster in search of more game time with Munster back in 2018.

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At the time, Carbery’s move was believed to have been pushed by then Ireland coach Joe Schmidt who wanted the mercurial talent to challenge incumbent Johnny Sexton for the green number ten shirt.

“I think he’s too good and it’s a little bit like the Joey Carberry one.

“I know the same sort of pressure is not on, and Sam Prendergast is not in the Irish squad.

“It’s not like Joey Carberry who was trying to put pressure on Johnny Sexton to try and play for Ireland at 10,  it’s a little bit different.

“But there’s a couple of similarities as regards to the makeup of the player and really the quality they have.

“So I think at this pivotal moment in time, I’d be very surprised and I wouldn’t be keen for him to move if I was involved with Leinster.”

Irish Rugby fans, do you think this move should happen for the good of the national team? Or will Prendergast benefit more from remaining within the Leinster frame work? Let us know in the comments below!

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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