Contepomi: ‘Rob and Ferg have been unbelievable servants’
July 10, 2020 4:59 pm Ryan Corry
Speaking to the media this week, backs coach Felipe Contepomi expressed his delight at the contract extensions of Fergus McFadden and Rob Kearney until the end of the current campaign.
The Argentine, a teammate of both Kearney and McFadden in his time as a player with the province, believes that the experienced pair will be a major addition to the dressing room as the postponed season is finished throughout autumn.
“They’ve been unbelievable servants for Leinster,” he said during the virtual press conference.
“For us as a team, they are massive and can add a lot. To start with, a lot of experience, for the young guys to play beside Rob and Ferg, and train beside them is unbelievable. They’ve been there for 15 years and they know ‘From The Ground Up’, Leinster, all the systems, they know the mentality, they know the culture.
“It’s how they drive that legacy and pass it on. It’s great to have them for the start/end of the season. And, I think they can add a lot into the group.
Some of those who will benefit from the pair’s knowledge of the game are the Academy players preparing for promotion to the Senior squad for 2020/21.
Contepomi has been impressed by all five of the players making the step up but urges caution in expecting too much too soon from young players.
“Some guys, Ryan Baird and Harry Byrne, have already gone into the spotlight, you’ve seen them and they’ve come up with some good things but not every guy can explode at 20 years old,” he adds.
“They are very young and they are developing. They are really good prospects in terms of fitness and physicality. Jack (Dunne) is huge, is a very big player, Dan (Sheehan) is the same and Tommy (O’Brien).
“They are good players, they might take longer to get into the scene but they will get there because they are really hard workers and going in the right direction.”
From a coaching point of view, Contepomi has felt energised by the challenge of tailoring training sessions to comply with the COVID-19 protocols and is looking forward to stepping closer to normality on the players’ return from the upcoming two-week break.
“It’s been a great mental exercise to go and try to create something. I’d like to think that they’ve enjoyed it because, if not, I’ll be in trouble,” he laughs.
“I don’t know about innovative, but creative, yes. Especially the first week where we couldn’t even pass the ball and that is one of the basics in rugby, tackling is the other but we couldn’t do either.
“Hopefully, when we come back from the break, we’ll be playing more rugby-type games and training sessions. I think it’s been good and, more so, even if we couldn’t do all of our rugby stuff, it’s been great to get back as a team.
“To start with, in small groups of six, then 12 and then 20. Even if you can’t see all the players, because of different timetables, it’s still great to be around.”