Connacht have secured the signature of Leinster’s tighthead prop Nathan White for next season. The 30-year-old joined Leinster at the beginning of this season, but has understandably failed to oust Mike Ross from the first team. As well as playing Super Rugby for the Chiefs, White made 77 appearances for Waikato in New Zealand prior to joining Leinster. He captained the province for two seasons and Connacht will hope that he brings his leadership skills to their squad.
The New Zealander has only made 3 starts for Leinster this season so from his point of view, the move will result in more first-team rugby next season. For Connacht, this should prove to be an important capture of a prop who has looked strong in his outings for Leinster, albeit mainly off the bench. The longest he has played for is 56 minutes against Treviso two weeks ago. However, with Rodney Ah You and Ronan Loughney also available for Connacht at tighthead, stamina shouldn’t pose a major problem.
White has a reputation as an explosive scrummager and all the signs are that he is a good leader. Connacht have struck gold if this proves to be the case. They have lacked strong leaders this season, slipping to narrow losses time and again. White’s experience will help in that regard. Around the pitch, the 118kg prop can contribute and White’s only try this season showed that he has a decent turn of pace.
For Leinster, this move may actually leave them a little short at tighthead next season. Ross is the incumbent number 3, while Jamie Hagan will become the undisputed back-up. Hagan must be pleased with the impending departure of White, as it will offer him more playing time. However, should Hagan progress to the international squad alongside Ross, Leinster could be weak at tighthead during international phases of the season. Hopefully, they will look to promote from within. Academy prospects like Martin Moore will be optimistic about making the step up.
This transfer looks like it will benefit all parties. Connacht will be greatly boosted by the arrival of a player of White’s calibre, Hagan will hopefully start to compete with Ross for a Leinster place next season, and should Leinster push one of their young tightheads into the senior squad, there are obvious benefits to Irish rugby further down the line. The move shows that Connacht are serious about improving next season, and again that has obvious benefits for Irish rugby.
Photo courtesy: Ken Bohane.