Andrew Porter: 'There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think of her'
Ireland and Leinster prop ready to operate on both sides of the scrum in Japan
Andrew Porter with a photograph of his late mum, Wendy, who died when he was just starting secondary school. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
The highly personalised array of pictures of the Irish players and management by Dan Sheridan of the Inpho agency, which were displayed in the Irish Times last Saturday, showed them in an altogether more revealing, off-the-field light than sometimes any amount of words can do.
This is partly because the reduced number of one-on-one interviews admitted by the Irish management and the IRFU in latter years has meant their back stories have been kept under wraps. But the pictures are a consequence of Inpho’s access to the squad, Sheridan’s talent and the relationships he has built with the squad, which is also true of many Lions’ players from other countries.
One of the most revealing was the picture of Andrew Porter. Looking at a picture of his late mother, Wendy, which is a subject which the 23-year-old has spoken of in the past.
“I got a few messages from people back home saying they liked the pictures. In camp there was a bit of slagging going around. But they were lovely pictures. They show another side to us. We’re more than just players - we’re brothers, sons, boyfriends, husbands, whatever.
“So it’s nice to be able to see that other side of people - it’s nice for us to be able to show people that. At the end of the day, we’re all human.
“There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think of her,” said Porter of his mother. “It’s always been close to my heart and it’s on my sleeve there,” he added, pointing to the tattoo on his right arm.
“The picture wasn’t my idea. Dan Sheridan brought it up - he’d be a good friend of mine now and it’s something I’d be able to talk to him openly about. He has that connection with a lot of the players. He brought the idea forward and I was more than happy to go ahead with it.”
Tattoos are taboo in Japanese society, or at any rate displaying them in certain public settings, and Porter admitted he had to cover them up while in the swimming pool.
“I’ve had to wear one of those long thermal vests and a sock over my calf. But walking around town it’s been fine. Swimming is the only problem.”
Porter’s value to this World Cup squad has been heightened by his ability to revert to his original position of loosehead as well as his current role at tighthead.
“It was a bit challenging at the beginning but I got my reps in training and I got a decent few minutes against Wales at loosehead. It’s like riding a bike - you don’t really forget it. It’s where I started off, so I’m really excited - if I have to cover both roles, I’m versatile.”
As to the differences between the two roles, he said: “Tighthead, you’re standing up trying to catch your breath after a while, trying not to pass out. You see the stars sometimes. Loosehead, you’re almost attacking (the opposition) tighthead; you’re trying to lock it down so that would take it out of you a bit more.”
Porter has won 14 of his 18 caps off the bench and, to begin with at any rate, his impact is again likely to be in the last half hour or so. “What we’re always told is to fit in first, not to go away from the plan. So that’s what I’ll be looking to bring, if I am on the bench. If I’m starting I’ll be more than happy to put my best foot forward, but I’ll also have a big job to do if I’m coming on as a substitute.”