Saturday 1 October 2016

Dependable McGrath still going strong

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Published 22/06/2016 | 02:30

Since Ireland gathered together on June 29 last year, the Leinster prop hasn’t stopped. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Since Ireland gathered together on June 29 last year, the Leinster prop hasn’t stopped. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

If anyone deserves an end-of-season rest it's Jack McGrath.

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Since Ireland gathered together on June 29 last year, the Leinster prop hasn't stopped.

Saturday's final Test in South Africa will be his 16th of the season. He sat out the World Cup warm-up against Scotland but otherwise he's been ever-present during this longest season.

Throw in 18 appearances for Leinster and it's been quite a campaign for the 26-year-old St Mary's loosehead who would be a shoo-in for the Lions if the squad was being picked today.

Yet for all that he has been a stellar member of the team this season, Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek wasn't about to go over the top in his praise of McGrath when given the opportunity yesterday.

"In terms of being up there and being the best in Europe, he would certainly be one of the best there," he said.

"You just need to play southern hemisphere teams more often to be able to see more.

"But I think he's certainly putting his hand up and he's certainly got the attitude and the character, let alone the stuff he's doing around the paddock. He does everything really, really well.

"He's always wanted to improve and he's always wanted to get better and even how he looks after his body and those sort of things, he's class as well.

"You don't want to be putting too much pressure on by saying this and that but he's certainly up there."

This tour has seen the long-awaited emergence of Tadhg Furlong as a realistic Test starter and Feek has been pleased with the Wexford native's progress after he tamed Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira last weekend.

"He's shown the ability and talent and sometimes you might have the physical feel of what you need to do but are not quite ready mentally, or vice versa," he said.

"But when the two start coming together that's when the time is right.

"If you're going into battle in a position like that and your head is not quite there then it can almost be, not dangerous, but it can be maybe not the best for him. But I think he showed a lot of maturity and mental strength at the weekend to be able to do what he did. He didn't disgrace himself, you know what I mean?"

Irish Independent

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