sport

O'Shea gives Irish reassurance

Harlequins boss Conor O'Shea doesn't believe Marland Yarde's departure from London Irish will spark a fresh player exodus.

England international Yarde will join Quins this summer, the 21-year-old opting to leave the Exiles despite a board takeover that has secured the club's long-term future.

Irish were "disappointed" with Yarde's decision after offering the two-cap wing, who came through their academy, a competitive new contract.

Former London Irish full-back O'Shea admitted he had to be clinical in snapping up a top talent from a club he served with distinction between 1995 and 2000.

But the Harlequins rugby director does not expect Yarde leaving to kick-start another talent drain, after Irish lost four top stars to Bath last summer.

"I love that club, everyone knows that, and Marland loves that club because it's given him a lot," said O'Shea.

"But he decided it was time for a change and it's not my job not to be talking to a player when you're aware that someone of that calibre is available.

"He loves that club; he knows how much it has given him.

"He's committed to London Irish, to getting back fit for them from his hip problem and beating us when they play us later in the season.

"I just hope he doesn't play too well when he plays against us in a couple of months' time!"

Future

Mick Crossan, the boss of waste management company Powerday, led a board takeover at Irish in December, shaking off concerns about long-term stability by securing fresh investment.

Springbok prop CJ Van der Linde arrived at the Sunbury-based club as a direct result of the boardroom shifts but Irish have been unable to retain prize asset Yarde.

Australia flyer James O'Connor will leave in the summer too, at the end of his short-term deal, but O'Shea has backed close friend Crossan to help propel Irish back up the Aviva Premiership table.

Revealing he informed new Irish president Crossan of his intention to make an offer to Yarde, O'Shea said: "I love that place, and it will be successful.

"Mick is great, he's been a massive supporter of the academy up there for years, and he's a good friend of mine as well.

"He was someone I rang even before I spoke to Marland, and all I know is that that guy will bring success to that club. Hopefully we can stay ahead of them for a little bit."