Wednesday 28 June 2017

Consistency key for Ross - Feek

Leinster's Mike Ross, here being tackled by Rhys Gill and Brad Barritt of Saracens at the RDS last Saturday, has won the support of many observers to get a call-up to Declan Kidney's international front-row. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Leinster's Mike Ross, here being tackled by Rhys Gill and Brad Barritt of Saracens at the RDS last Saturday, has won the support of many observers to get a call-up to Declan Kidney's international front-row. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

He's only just moved into a house so it's probably not fair to expect Greg Feek, the Leinster and Ireland scrummaging guru, to start mouthing off to Declan Kidney about what his best front-row should be for the forthcoming Six Nations.

With the final inked details of his dual involvement barely dry on the page, Feek's sheepishness when asked directly would he include Mike Ross in an Ireland team is understandable.

"The media has probably said that," smiled the Kiwi, alighting on sport's preferred hobby horse when tough questions are asked. "Mike has scrummaged well and I think he still has games where he needs to get consistency, he still has games where he doesn't hit his own high standard.

"Mike's got a lot of experience. I call him a bit of a scrum nerd as well, he loves it. He also possesses some physical attributes that I think you need to have, particularly in the front-row and particularly if you want to go up against some of these big teams.

"If you are going to be an international prop then you have got to be consistent, not only at the scrum but also in the other parts of your game. Consistency is really important at the top level."

logic

Applying that logic, based on current form, Ross easily supersedes the claims of the frustratingly inconsistent Tony Buckley, even when the latter manages to reach a level of full fitness.

On the opposite side of the scrum, Cian Healy's impressive form in the Heineken Cup has offered hope that he can also improve his consistency and backbone a front-row that is the biggest area of weakness in Kidney's ranks.

And, with the Italians having little to boast about except their front-row prowess, Kidney will be highly appreciative of the work Feek has done with his two leading props ahead of the Rome opener next month.

The least the IRFU could do is purchase a widescreen television for Feek's new pad as he hasn't even had the time to install a home entertainment system such has been his devotion to the Leinster and Ireland cause.

"Cian has a lot to work with," said Feek when pressed on the abrasive loose-head, still slowly sharpening the rough edges of his formidable raw talent.

"He has some physical attributes that are pretty exciting and he's only young, he's still learning. You can't hurry these things, you have to take your time but he's developing really well."

Leinster may have already qualified for the Heineken Cup knockout stage over the weekend but a home quarter-final tie is the carrot that awaits at Racing Metro's historic Stade Colombes on Friday night.

Conscious that their campaign last term was trumped on French soil, when their scrum struggled against the mighty Toulouse, Feek is determined that the improvements in Leinster's set-piece can propel them towards their desired goal.

"I wasn't here then so I've come in with a clean slate," he pointed out. "You might be right, there might be a little of that still there and that might be some motivation, but at the end of the day you just want to play rugby and win and do your job, and that's motivation in itself.

"We've had to work at a bit of everything. It's the minor details of it all. You can't just pinpoint one area and hope the rest of it will come right. I looked at what everyone had done but (was) also looking to start from scratch with everyone again.

"I wasn't looking for a quick fix. Good things take time.

"It's great when you have players that are willing to soak up what you want them to do to improve and then go away and say 'right, I'll do it', and they need to be doing those little things to keep it going and get that consistency, so the attitude of the boys has been great.

"It's been great. The personalities in the team, they're all humble guys, and it adds to it being a team that's doing well. It hasn't gone to their heads, they're really keen to keep working on what they need to improve on and are asking lots of questions, which shows the character of the team."

And if Feek's influence counts for anything, Ross and Healy will be to the forefront in revealing that character during Ireland's forthcoming Six Nations, as they seek to right the wrongs of a poor 2010 international campaign.

Irish Independent

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