Greg Feek ready to back Martin Moore for crucial Castres tie

While Mike Ross has not been definitively ruled out, an injured hamstring makes Leinster prop a big doubt

Leinster’s Martin Moore is congratulated by Jamie Heaslip.

Leinster’s Martin Moore is congratulated by Jamie Heaslip.

Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 01:00

The tighthead prop always draws a singular type of intrepid following. When Mike Ross limped off the pitch in Liberty Stadium, and Martin Moore slid into the Leinster and Irish tighthead position, calamity was painted across many faces.

Scrumming down against hooker Richard Hibbard and Duncan Jones, Moore’s opposite prop, the Irish Heineken Cup debutant ‘larged’ it up. Calamity was avoided and the points Ospreys momentarily saw flash in front of their eyes evaporated under a rock-steady Irish set-piece that pushed them towards their own posts. Moore’s baptism was complete.

It was memorable cameo from the Barnhall graduate, who had not expected to begin asking Matt O’Connor heavy selection questions in the second round of the Heineken Cup. While Ross has not yet been definitively ruled out, O’Connor and scrum coach Greg Feek will have to consider if Moore is ripe for the Castres frontrow.

Mihaita Lazar a Romanian international, Brice Mach, a hooker with no international history and Anton Peirkrishvilli, Castres’ Georgian tighthead, started last week with few ill affects against Northampton’s English duo of Alex Corbisiero and Dylan Hartley, with Australia’s Salesi Ma’afu at tighthead.

‘Loose forwards’
“Well the credit really for that is himself and that scrum down there,” says Feek of Moore. “He wouldn’t have been able to do that on his own. The loose forwards in this day and age with the new laws are becoming really important so I think he’ll be taking them for lunch.

“Marty has been chipping away for a while. He was in the Academy. I’ve known him since I’ve been here . . . John Fogarty and a lot of the other guys as well. So he’s just progressed and he’s got Mike Ross here as well to learn off, so he’s just building.”

Big names are now being tossed around at the 22-year-old. While Moore did well he is callow and he is still on a steep learning curve. But Ross, who Joe Schmidt will want in pristine condition for next month, cannot be risked. A hamstring strain becoming a tear would knock him out of the international series. Maybe then Leinster can register another prop.

“No, we have got Michael Bent and he is progressing pretty well,” says Feek. “Obviously he hasn’t played for a while but hopefully Benty will be training this week and we just have to deal with the cards we were dealt.

“If Ross isn’t available we will have to sort that out. We are tipping away and Benty is working back from his injury and he might be available. Even Tadhg Furlong is coming back from his operation as well. We just have to keep positive and if Marty has to do the job we will back him to do that.”

Although Feek and O’Connor have great time for Moore, there is some trepidation in asking too much.

“I think it all happened pretty fast,” says Feek. “The players have to be switched on. They have got to be watching the game. That is just something that they prepare themselves for.

“I am not going to make a lie and say ‘yeah, yeah, we said this to him’. Basically it was ‘Rossy’s got a hammy, get Marty on’. “The leaders out there, your Jamie (Heaslip) and your Seánie (O’Brien), even your Seán Cronin and your Cian (Healy) helped him out. He couldn’t have gone out there and done it on his own.”