Saturday 23 September 2017

Feek: Richardt Strauss is a quick learner

Richardt Strauss in actio for Leinster
Richardt Strauss in actio for Leinster
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

"YOU just change your clothes, have a bit more green in the hat. And as long as you don't call Declan 'Joe', you should get it right."

Greg Feek is used to double-jobbing at this stage. And certainly when the time comes for Leinster's scrum coach to turn his attention to Ireland, he'll be ready.

Feek has been on board since the autumn internationals of 2010, so is well established in the Irish camp. He'll be helped by the fact that he deals with Ireland's first-choice props in the day job and Ireland's second-choice hooker is also a Leinster player -- but a new face to the Ireland set-up, nonetheless.

Richardt Strauss' inclusion as one of only two hookers in the squad -- along with the incumbent Rory Best -- has grabbed the headlines this week.

Three short years have passed since the South African rocked up here and he could conceivably make his Ireland debut packing down against his cousin Adriaan, who started at hooker for the Springboks last game in the Rugby Championship.

A reformed back-row, Strauss' dynamic skills in the loose didn't really surprise, but, according to Feek, his all-round game has improved.

"I think he's learned a lot, particularly in the last two years when we've faced some big packs. He's experienced Toulouse, Leicester, Northampton and the French packs, and every time he goes out, he is learning.

Experience

"We're all learning -- that's a constant thing -- but I think the experience he's gained will suit him. He knows the South Africans, he's played against some of these guys in the past."

Strauss is ready, Feek maintains, but the forgotten man in all of this is Sean Cronin.

"You guys have seen (Strauss) play over the last couple of years and he'll be a welcome addition to the team.

"It's a shame for Sean Cronin, though. He offers a lot in terms of ball-carrying, but Straussy, Declan liked something in him. He does well in the set-piece, his ball-carrying is dynamic and he is good around the rucks.

"I think it's his chance and, hopefully, he makes the most of it, because when he gets back into the Leinster set- up Sean Cronin will be breathing down his neck and hoping to get his place back. I think it's good for Irish rugby, good for Leinster rugby as well, that there is that competition and some depth."

Leinster will name their team for the visit of Cardiff Blues today and it's expected to be a mix of front-line players looking for some game time and others who have been less exposed.

Rhys Ruddock is expected to ease the workload on the back-rowers, while the return of Dave Kearney -- who is expected to play tomorrow and can cover across the back three -- comes at a good time.

His brother Rob aims to be back in time for the Six Nations opener, while Isa Nacewa is in a race against time to be fit for the back-to-back Heineken Cup clashes with Clermont in December.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport