Downey hails Leinster talent

21 December 2017 22:21:06 GMTPlus11

Former Leinster centre James Downey believes that the academy system has been the key to their success in the European Champions Cup this season.

Leo Cullen's men have impressed in Europe's top-tier competition in 2017/18, securing four victories in succession to top Pool 3.

Although they have plenty of experience, their younger players have also shown their quality with the likes of Jack Conan, Luke McGrath and Josh van der Flier all standing up.

Downey said: "It's a conveyor belt of players coming through and it's the best academy system that I've seen across all the clubs I've been at.

"If you look at the rest of the provinces, a lot of them are stacked with Leinster players who just can't get game time at Leinster.

"The academy system is second-to-none. One of the positive things about having central contracts is that, when you take away these players, these young players are actually getting a bit of game time and are stepping up."

With Leinster producing far more players than their Irish provincial rivals, Downey believes that it is their ability to identify individuals at a young age which sets them apart.

"It starts with the school system," he added. "The school system, especially in Leinster, is extremely highly regarded.

"They identify these players at such an early age and, if you look at the other teams, they've only got one or two schools that are producing decent players, while in Leinster there are eight or nine."

Leinster are available at 13/8 to win the Champions Cup this season, with Munster 7/1 and Saracens 9/2.

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