Tom O’Toole admits to Leinster interest ahead of him committing to Ulster

Ireland prop happy to sign new three-year deal with northern province

Tom O'Toole
Tom O’Toole says there were a few whispers from Leinster before he penned his new three-year deal with Ulster

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Ireland prop Tom O’Toole admitted that there were a few admiring glances thrown his way from Leinster before he pledged his long-time future to Ulster by signing a new three-year contract to stay at Kingspan Stadium.

Born in Drogheda there was speculation that O’Toole would sign for his native province, but the 13-time Ireland capped front row will stay with Ulster.

“Just probably, a few whispers, whatever,” said O’Toole on the Leinster rumours.

“I’ve signed on for three years so really happy that got over the line.”

“Exciting, three more years here which is an honour and privilege to be part of this group, very exciting times.”

O’Toole divulged he may have to change sides in the scrum if he wasn’t to add to his Ireland caps.

With the Tadgh Furlong, Finlay Belham and the emergence of Oli Jager, O’Toole has slipped down the international pecking order in the fight for the Ireland No3 shirt, however on the other side of the scrum, Cian Healy is back up to Andrew Porter at loosehead and at 36 years old his days in the green shirt look numbered leaving Andy Farrell with a void.

“At Ireland we’re always looking to get the best out of each other so Oli Jager came in and did very well and we’ve got a lot of depth and experience at front row so I think for me to be able to play both sides there is going to be hugely important,” O’Toole said.

“We had conversations (with Irish management) about how I felt about it and making sure I was comfortable with doing a bit of both but anything to help grow my game and develop me as a player and give me any opportunity to either play for Ulster or Ireland I’m definitely going to take it.”

“If I can have any opportunity to get my foot in the door and play both sides, I’m up for that, I was getting a few reps down there in camp and playing a bit of both sides, it’s beneficial with Ulster and internationally.”

“It’s exciting to see where I can go, and Fogs (John Fogarty) is in with us now helping us a bit so I’m sure we’ll continue to look at that and grow that.”

“I played a little bit underage stuff at loosehead but nothing really competitively but I’m sure I can get the grasp of it, it’s a little bit different to tighthead and takes a little bit of time but I’d back myself that I could do a job there.”

O’Toole explained the different nuisances of playing either side of the scrum.

“It’s challenged me in many ways, going from tight to loose it’s going from tighthead taking on two guys to loosehead taking on one.”

“It’s a little bit different but it’s a huge challenge and exciting for me but I can give it a good crack,

I’ll hopefully get the grasp of it pretty quickly.”

Tom O'Toole faces competition at prop for Ireland
Ireland Team Run and Press Conference - Twickenham Stadium - Friday 8th March Tom O'Toole faces competition at prop for Ireland (Adam Davy/PA)

O’Toole is hoping working with Fogarty on a daily basis at Ulster can help develop his game.

“‘Fogs’ is always very detailed in what he does with the scrum stuff but he’s got a really good sense of craic about him, so he has a really good side that allows the boys to have a bit of humour and enjoy themselves in the work place a bit.

Obviously when it comes down to doing the work he’s always very detailed in what he does and he makes sure the boys are on top of their work so I’m expecting more of what he does but not change much from what he does at Ireland camp.”

“Kind of be himself, come in and do what he does best and I’m really looking forward to him and I know him pretty well so I’m very used to his coaching style.”