McGrath heads new line of loosehead likely lads
Feek seeks clarity over teething problems with new scrum laws
Leinster’s impressive young tighthead prop Jack McGrath is tackled by Richard Fussell of the Ospreys during the recent Rabo Direct Pro 12 game at the RDS. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Irish props haven’t exactly been falling out of the trees in the professional era. The durability of John Hayes, especially, and Marcus Horan covered a multitude but now, on foot of Cian Healy’s emergence at world-level and David Kilcoyne breaking into the Munster and Irish set-ups last season, another batch of likely young lads are starting to cut up trees.
Augmenting James Cronin’s impressive start to the campaign with Munster, Jack McGrath has hit the ground running for Leinster.
McGrath not only survived, but emerged in credit from an 80-minute effort against, first, fellow 23-year-old Joe Rees and then Lions tighthead Adam Jones, making five carries in the move which culminated in his 70th-minute try against the Ospreys, having deftly created the first try for Richardt Strauss.
‘Going great guns’
“I think Jack is going great guns,” enthused Greg Feek yesterday. “He had a good pre-season and a good off-season. He ended last season really well and it’s good to see him doing 80 minutes.
“He got through a power of work in the last 10 minutes of the game. Maybe he needs to work harder if he’s still doing that,” quipped the Leinster scrum coach.
As encouraging for Leinster has been the emergence of 22-year-old tighthead Martin Moore. Leo Cullen had been extolling his virtues since pre-season over a year ago.
“Marty is certainly in the frame now,” added Feek, “and hopefully with more game time and a bit more experience at a high level against wily old props and a higher-paced game he’ll slowly grow as well.
“Jack’s had two or three years at that now and he’s been raring to go. He’s been a chained-up dog for the last 12 months anyway.”
With Heinke van der Meuwe having moved on, and given the high attrition rate in the frontrow demands rotation, both should develop further this season, and 23-year-old Jack O’Connell (an unused replacement on Saturday) is in McGrath’s slipstream.
Given their age profile, they ought also to be able to adapt to the new scrum regulations, which have take the emphasis away from the hit and restored straight feeds.
Feek, like most scrum coaches, has been avidly watching games to ascertain their effect.
Less neck injuries
One of the immediate spin-offs, he envisages from player feedback, will be less neck injuries, and agrees there have been less collapsed and re-set scrums.
Nonetheless, he will be seeking clarification on whether a scrum has to be square and stable before the scrumhalf’s feed, and thus whether feeding a slightly skewed scrum constitutes a crooked put-in.