"How did we let this guy go!?" is the incantation across a few rugby sites in Australia these days, whenever they chronicle the week in Northern Hemisphere rugby. They talk of Scott Fardy: the increasingly dominant forward in the Champions Cup who is standing out in a Grand Slam-winning pack. A man of the match performance against Scarlets in the Champions Cup semi-final - from a somewhat unfamiliar position in the back row - presaged a nomination for European Player of the Year.
"I wouldn't read too much of it" a fairly bashful Fardy tells Balls. "I've been there when we lost games, playing for Brumbies and Australia. I'm not the answer to any of that. I feel lucky to be playing here with the guys I'm playing with".
Fardy spends some weekend mornings following Super Rugby from Dublin, and is deeply unimpressed with how we define the morning. "What do you call the crack of dawn!? It's only 8.30 in the morning!"
If this really is a country for those who get up early in the morning, then it's no surprise that Fardy has settled easily. "A colder Australia" is his pithy summation of Ireland.
On the field, he and Leinster are enjoying remarkable success, and are a trilogy of games from a double. Such consistency across the season is a testament to Leinster's remarkable reserves of quality." I haven't dealt with such a huge squad before. Using 55 players is fantastic. And I look forward to seeing them in the future".
Jamison Gibson-Park sluiced a bit of light upon the secreted corners of Leinster Rugby in a recent podcast interview with The Rugby Pod and revealed the phenomenon of "Stuesdays" - the day of the week that Stuart Lancaster ratchets up the intensity on the Leinster players. Fardy is stoic in response.
They aren't too bad! It's just running around. When you get to my age you're happy to still be running around!
They are all intense. But they are all rugby-based, and that's what you want to be doing, playing rugby.
You're puffed at the end, but I have fun doing it.
Gibson-Park also revealed that, in anticipation of Tadhg Beirne's work at the breakdown for Scarlets, Leinster "had a poor lad wearing a blue scrum-cap all week battering the crap out of him just trying to prepare". Fardy does not elaborate, merely adding that "Jeez he gave away a lot... I wear a blue scrum cap, maybe they are trying to get me!"
After that remarkable game against Scarlets, Johnny Sexton was full of praise for Fardy. "That’s why it is so important that the club signs these quality foreigners", said Sexton. "I don’t think James Ryan would be the player he has been this season without Scott Fardy helping him along. Those back row guys, he coaches them. He’s had a huge impact on the group".
Fardy is shy in response. "Johnny said that, I don't know if I help that much . They are obviously very talented players. If I have something to say, I'll say it, but I just try to play well and do the best I can do for the side. These guys have all the talent in the world".
Fardy does, however, pin an asterisk to James Ryan's record of avoiding defeat in all of his games in professional rugby thus far. "In saying that, most of those games I started for him, and he came off the bench! Nobody mentions that!"
Speaking generally of the seemingly-ceaseless conveyor belt of talent in Irish rugby at the moment, Fardy praises one element in particular.
They have a good system here it doesn't surprise me that they are churning out these quality players.
I think in terms of the Leinster point of view, the ability to have guys integrated with the university is great. When a guy gets to 21, 22 with his university degree done while he is taking off as a professional player, is pretty special. Those post-rugby things, they are all taken care of so there's no need to worry there. Throughout the squad you have a lot of intelligent, switched-on guys, doing all kinds of different things.
It's exciting, and great for their post-rugby life.
As we breeze through a range of topics around Leinster and Irish rugby at today, he demurs on the question of the futures of Joey Carbery and Ross Byrne.
No [the speculation doesn't have an impact on the camp]. Not at all. It's not discussed much. It's for those two blokes to make a decision, and I don't read much of it so don't know too much of what you're talking about.
As for Fardy's own future, he is signed on at Leinster for another year, and will reassess his options toward the end of this year. "I'm signed for another year, so the plan is to take things as they come and make a decision near the end of the year, if Leinster still want me!"
He won't have much reason to worry about that last count.
Scott Fardy was speaking to Balls to promote Optimum Nutrition, Official Sport Nutrition Partner to Leinster Rugby.