Geraghty in line for shock return to London IrishBy Alan Manicom
April 19, 2012
Shane Geraghty is in line for a sensational return to London Irish, three years after upsetting head coach Toby Booth by leaving for Aviva Premiership rivals Northampton Saints.
The 25-year-old England international fly-half is set to become director of rugby Brian Smith’s latest top signing.
Geraghty is currently with French Top 14 club Brive, having joined them last summer after two seasons at Northampton.
He scored 13 tries and 219 points during his five seasons with Irish, earning six caps for England.
When he moved to Franklins Gardens 2009 he was rated among the brightest prospects in English rugby and his departure was met with dismay by Irish's head coach Toby Booth, who said: “It’s always disappointing when a home-grown player decides to leave for non-playing reasons given the resources the club has invested in developing him.”
Geraghty's exciting, risk-taking style of play, though, was rarely used by Saints head coach Jim Mallinder.
And although he featured 55 times for Saints, he struggled to secure the starting berth ahead of Stephen Myler.
Geraghty's final appearance for Northampton was as a 66th-minute replacement in last season's Heineken Cup final defeat by Leinster.
But he has dancing magic in his feet as well as blazing pace and has been a major figure for Brive, helping them reach the last four of the Amlin Cup, despite being sin-binned in their 15-11 quarter-final win over Scarlets in France earlier this month.
Although he can also play at centre, he is likely to form an exciting half-back partnership at Irish with Tomas O'Leary, the Ireland and Lions scrum-half who will be joining from Munster in the summer.
Geraghty is not the greatest place-kicker, but Exiles have that area well covered at full-back with Tom Homer, the Premiership’s top points scorer this season.
Smith has indicated that he is close to bringing in a top signing and Geraghty fits the bill.
But Exiles’ most immediate concern ahead of Saturday's trip to Worcester Warriors is ending a seven-match losing streak in the Premiership – the worst run in the club’s history.
Smith believes Irish deserved more from their 28-19 defeat at home to Saracens last Saturday, saying: “With five minutes to go we had a centrefield scrum on their try line.
The referee then free kicked against us on our own scrum feed when we had eight versus seven, which was a very big call.
“He said we engaged early. We can’t blame the referee for us losing the game, but we were definitely the dominant team at scrums.
“Why would we mess around when we’ve got a chance to score. They’re one man down remember, so it’s the perfect time for us.”