Bernard Jackman: Sam Prendergast ‘needs to play’, one Leinster fly-half ‘has to leave’

Jared Wright
Bernard Jackman on rte and Leinster fly-half Sam Prendergast

Bernard Jackman on rte and Leinster fly-half Sam Prendergast.

Former Ireland hooker and respected pundit Bernard Jackman believes that Leinster have too many fly-halves in their squad and has encouraged the Irish province to loan youngster Sam Prendergast out.

Prendergast has been linked with a loan move to Connacht next season but the deal has stalled with the youngster now looking set to remain with Leinster instead.

Leinster has four players capable of filling the fly-half role for the side in the Byrne brothers, Ross and Harry, as well as the versatile Ciaran Frawley.

Meanwhile, there is somewhat of a fly-half crisis at the other Irish provinces as Connacht are likely to be without JJ Hanrahan for the coming months after a nasty injury, leaving them with just one fly-half in Jack Carty.

Munster is losing Joey Carbery to Bordeaux, and in his place, they have signed Ulster number 10 Billy Burns. Ulster have snapped up Irish-qualified Aidan Morgan from the Hurricanes ahead of next season, but they, too, are short on options in the position going forward.

Too many fly-halves at Leinster

Prendergast is highly-rated in Irish rugby circles and his potential move to Connacht would likely result in him playing more regularly next season, which Jackman says will be crucial for his development.

The ex-front-rower also says that Leinster have too many fly-halves and one of the four should leave the side.

“Sam Prendergast is a talent and he needs to play. I’m not saying he needs to go to Connacht or stay at Leinster but he needs to play more,” he said on RTE Sport.

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“There is no conflict between Leinster and Ireland as they are aligned, but what’s best for Ireland is that Sam Prendergast plays, and he needs to play more than he has so far.

“Leinster have four 10s, Ross Byrne, Harry Byrne, Ciaran Frawley and Sam Prendergast, it’s very difficult for any of them to develop to the level that they have to.”

Asked if Leinster have too many 10s, Jackman replied: “Yes, I think one of them has to leave and that’s a decision for Leinster to answer, they are all under contract.”

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Ireland’s slow development

Jackman highlighted the lack of depth at fly-half in Ireland this season, adding that it will likely worsen next season if the talent is not spread out.

“It’s a Leinster issue and it’s an Irish rugby issue in terms of depth chart at 10,” he said.

“So, in a position where we were a little bit think like this year, theoretically, we’re going to be even more so next year.”

But that was not his only gripe as he feels that Irish teams are waiting too long to push through talented youngsters into the first team and them getting starting minutes earlier in their career.

Staying with the theme of fly-halves in his explanation, he pointed to how Harlequins and Northampton Saints sped up the development of Marcus Smith and Fin Smith respectively.

“One of the things for me, is we’re not doing the same as other countries in terms of bringing through young talent quickly enough,” he explained.

“If you look at England, Marcus Smith played at 19 and 20. Northampton Saints let Dan Biggar go [to Toulon] because they had Finn Smith who was a young player pushing through.

“I remember when Thomas Ramos was 19, Toulouse sent him on loan to Colomiers for a year and so he could play every week and he played nearly every match and he came back to be a Toulouse star and a French international.”

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