Scott Fardy following Rocky road as he makes massive impact

Like fellow-Aussie Elsom, teak-tough secondrow impressing in Leinster blue

Rocky Elsom came, played the drums, won the Heineken Cup and left.

As legacies go, that of the Australian flanker was short, loud and memorable. For a one-season soldier his wrecking ball impact is still indented on the Leinster psyche. Scott Fardy knows what he is up against.

“Yeah, everyone talks about Rocky,” says Fardy. “We all knew from back home what he’d achieved here. I don’t know Rocky at all. I think I only played about three minutes against him. I was in the Waratahs’ academy when he was there.”

Known as a Brumbie lock, he moved to backrow but now plays exclusively in the second row with Leinster, keeping James Ryan away from the paddock and in a constant state of frustration.


Fardy put in another decent shift against Exeter last weekend.

It’s frustrating for the capped 21-year-old Ryan. But at Leinster – with the Aussie and vastly underrated Devin Toner – you must work before you play and Fardy’s experience and what he brings to Leinster, as much his around the park ability, is all part of the package.

Unlike former Leinster centre Ben Te'o, who was refreshingly candid about the importance of his career moves and financial impact of his choices, Fardy, like many other players, doesn't see himself as a gun for hire. While far from under paid he realistically could have gotten more togging out in France or England.

“I wanted to enjoy my rugby. Money is not everything to me. Put it that way,” he says. “I wanted to come overseas. I wanted to experience playing European rugby. Ideally, that would be with a club playing at the business end. Leinster have proven they can get to the business end every year.

Top form

“You also want to keep learning. I’m learning stuff here, keep growing my game, getting better in my own game and, personally, in my life.

“I am happy where I am. If this is the twilight of my career, I want to enjoy it. I want to win things.”

It rings true because the 33-year-old did not do the private school thing, but played club rugby and inched his way through the system before earning his first cap at the ripe old age of 29. Four years later he was telling Michael Cheika he was leaving Australia for the coach's old club.

There was a seamlessness to the way he instantly fitted into how Leinster played and didn’t wait to settle, a sure sign of a player in charge of what he is doing and performing what the team asks him to perform.

But don’t ask Fardy to blow his own trumpet. It’s not how the Wallaby rolls.

“I don’t know what top form looks like. It is hard for me to say. It’s circumstantial,” he says sounding, well, existential.

“Sometimes when I think I’ve had a good game, people think I’ve had a bad game. A lot of what happens in a game is up to pot luck.”

Very often the ball finds the player but more often than not during the opening third of the season Fardy has found the ball. A collaboration of finesse, intelligence, toughness and maul collapsing cynical, when needs be, has made him quite an operational package.

Fardy has extra. Ryan should be scribbling notes on the bench.

“I’m just a small piece of it,” he says. “I just look after my own game and play well. I do what I do week in week out. There was plenty of good locks before I got here. Hopefully I could help them develop.”

Given his two-year deal, there’s a good chance of that.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times