Jump to main content


Gleeson To Bow Out On A Winning Note

Gleeson To Bow Out On A Winning Note

Saturday will be an emotional night for Keith Gleeson as he bids farewell to the Irish rugby public in his last home game for Leinster. An out-and-out openside and a truly committed player, the soon-to-be-retired 31-year-old will grace the RDS for the last time but fittingly, he looks set to bow out as a Magners League winner.

Should Leinster get the result they require against the Newport Gwent Dragons on Saturday, they will lift the league title for the first time since they were the competition’s inaugural winners back in 2001.

2001 was also Keith Gleeson’s first season with the province, adding a certain symmetry to a career which has yielded 27 Ireland caps but one which has been hampered by injuries.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Those injuries have unfortunately taken their toll on the Sydney-born forward over the years – he sustained both a broken arm and a serious leg break in 2004.

Although both Leinster coach Michael Cheika and the province’s supporters would like to see him continue, Gleeson insists that the time is right to call it a day.

“After this season, it’s definitely all over. One of the reasons I am retiring is the leg break I had four years ago,” he admitted. 

“It never healed perfectly so it has always been a case of still having a good qualify of life when I’m 40 and not having a smashed-up body.

“I knew from the beginning of the year it would be my last, but I didn’t want to announce it until close to the end of the season because I didn’t want it to be a distraction.

“I decided to train and play as hard as possible, and I think I have played some of the best rugby this season. I feel as though it’s been a fabulous year for me, personally, and the team as well.”

Players are usually flagging towards the end of a long, hard season but Gleeson is still feeling fresh and he puts that down to Leinster’s ability to rotate their squad and still get the results needed – they have won five of their last six games.

“With the added competition for places, because of the bigger squad, I am still feeling quite fresh to be honest,” said the flanker who played in the province’s pre-season defeat to Biarritz back in August.

“It’s the same for a lot of the players here at Leinster because we haven’t gone through what we have gone through in the past when some players have had to play nearly every game.

“There has been more rotation, everyone is fresher and really looking forward to what they think is going to be something special on Saturday night.”

There is no better way for a player to finish out his career than with a winners’ medal in his back pocket. Gleeson is determined to do so and with Leinster facing the struggling Dragons both home and away in their final two games, Cheika’s charges should need only one bite of the cherry.

Gleeson points to his side’s performances on Welsh soil this term – they have won at Cardiff, the Ospreys and Llanelli – as being crucial in propelling them to the top of the standings.

“The minute Michael took over as coach, he stressed that the Magners League was our bread-and-butter competition and that we should want to win it. We would use it to step forward to play in Europe.

“I think he got the message across, too, because we have been consistent in the Magners League and probably only lost out in the last two weeks of the last two seasons,” he added, reflecting on Leinster’s third place finish last season and their runners-up finish in 2005/06.

“This year has been better again, as previously we had won only one game in Wales in three seasons.

“This season we have won three of our games over there, with one still to come. It’s producing a situation where we can go into Saturday’s game focused, but feeling comfortable at the same time.”