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Ross ready for dark arts of De Malmanche

Aled de Malmanche is one of those unusual monsters that roam across the front row looking for any weakness to exploit.

The former Waikato Chief started at hooker for Stade Francais in the Amlin Cup quarter-final win at Bath and loose-head for the semi-final at Perpignan.

Leinster scrum coach Greg Feek knows a thing or two about the All Black – he has five caps – with the French connotation to his name.

So says Mike Ross.

"Greg was telling us this week about De Malmanche, who is apparently one of the strongest players in New Zealand rugby," revealed the Corkman.

"He has a ridiculous bench press of 220 (kilos) or something like that. Whether he plays at hooker or loose-head it is going to be a tasty encounter."

This is an eye-popping statistic when one considers the best bench press in the Leinster squad comes from Cian Healy at around 190 kilos.

Then again, as Ross would point out, you don't scrummage with your chest. The Ireland tight-head is another man mountain engaged in the push-and-shove grind of the scrum that can make all the difference.

There are those, mostly backs, who see this as just a show of strength. There are others who understand the technical side of absorbing and dominating the various pressure points around this most mysterious exercise.

Stade will probably look to use De Malmanche's strength to test what they see as the weakest point in the Leinster scrum.

"How will I put this? They really like to disrupt opposition ball. They don't particularly care how they do it. You often get a number of different things going on in the scrum," said Ross.

"Sometimes they'll attack the hooker. Sometimes they'll attack the tight-head. They tailor it to the teams they are playing against."

In other words, De Malmanche's selection at loose-head will imply they will go after Ross; while if he's the hooker, it will be Richardt Strauss or Sean Cronin.

The likelihood is that they will see a well-grounded anchor in Ross and take to putting the heat on Leinster's hooker in what will be one of the major battles that will decide the outcome of this war.

Leinster could become focused on how to deal with De Malmanche and a front row that could also include old teammate Stan Wright.

"You look after your own stuff first. If we start reacting to what they're doing, trying to counteract that, we start forgetting about what makes us strong.

"French teams will come at you on the angle. They will try and disrupt anyway they can. We just have to be ready for them and make sure our own stuff is squared away."


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